12.8million people entered the country by air between March 23, 2020 and April 2021 – with Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds saying on this, Dominic Cummings is absolutely right
Nearly 13 million people have entered Britain on planes from abroad during the coronavirus pandemic, Government figures revealed today.
Between March 23, 2020, when the first national lockdown was imposed, and April 2021, more than 12.8m people entered the country by air.
Numbers peaked last summer with British families returning from holidays overseas.
Some 1.2m passengers entered the UK in July, 3.1m in August and nearly 2.8m in September, before arrivals dwindled again.
They hit just 319,200 in February before rising again to 447,300 last month.
Separate immigration figures showed an estimated 18 million passenger arrivals in the year ending March 2021.
Scroll down for exclusive opinion piece by Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds.
But the statistics include the first few weeks of March 2020 before international travel ground to a halt for months.
The Home office said the 12-month figure represented “an 87% (123.2 million) decrease compared with the previous year”.
The figures triggered another row over borders during the Covid-19 crisis.
While UK frontiers remained open in the first few months of the pandemic, few flights landed.
But controversy has raged around measures to protect people from new variants imported from overseas.
The traffic light system means arrivals from “red list” nations have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 nights.
Passengers coming from amber nations have to self-isolate at home for 10 days.
More than 1.3m people arrived in January, February and March this year when Britain was in lockdown.
Less than a third were British nationals.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The Conservatives’ border protections against Covid are weak and dangerous, putting our hopes for freedom at risk.
“Time and time again, the UK Government promised strong border measures, but the truth is now out – millions of people have been flying in to the UK with only a tiny percentage going into hotel quarantine.
“It’s beyond reckless that so many people arrived during the third lockdown when international travel was supposed to be tightly restricted.
“No wonder we have had so many variant outbreaks, with Conservative chaos on border protections.”
Migration Watch UK chairman Alp Mehmet said: “Despite the greatest crisis that the UK has seen since World War Two, massively reduced international travel and lockdowns, there were still 18 million passenger arrivals in the past year.”
‘I agree with Dominic Cummings – Tory borders plan is a deadly disaster’
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds writes exclusively for the Mirror.
Britain didn’t have a “proper border policy because the Prime Minister never wanted a proper border policy” and “we still don’t have a proper border policy”.
Not the words of an Opposition MP, but those of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former top adviser.
It’s an odd thing for me to say, but I totally agree with him – and I have warned about this time and time again.
The Conservatives’ failure to protect our borders against Covid has been a deadly disaster.
The UK Government was slow to lockdown borders when the pandemic started, slow to start border testing and slow to start hotel quarantine.
New numbers just released show that around 1.6 million people flew in to the UK between January and April this year when international travel was supposed to be strictly limited – and only around 1% of those quarantined in hotels.
Labour has been calling for months for international travellers to quarantine in hotels when arriving into the UK, to help stop dangerous variants getting here.
Yet even when – tragically – Covid was raging in India this April, for two weeks the Prime Minister refused to add the country to the travel “red list”.
That terrible decision means communities across the country are now desperately trying to get outbreaks of Covid variants under control.
The Government’s recklessness also led to dangerous outbreaks of the South African and Brazilian variants.
Priti Patel promised strong border protections; what they’ve delivered is a dangerous mess.
The chaos exposed by Mr Cummings this week shows Mr Johnson is unfit to be Prime Minister.
Their failures on border protections has contributed to a record that meant tens of thousands of people have died needlessly and our domestic reopening being put at risk.