Families’ hopes for summer holidays abroad became a battleground between the Tories and Scottish nationalists this evening.
Ministers are finally expected to reveal tomorrow which countries are deemed safe for holidays – but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blamed SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon for delaying the “air bridges” announcement.
The Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson has already flouted Foreign Office advice by flying to his Greek hideaway – against the advice of the Government run by his own son.
In the Commons, Mr Shapps demanded the SNP’s “help in ensuring that air bridges can get going as quickly as possible”.
He said: “I’m very keen to get the devolved administrations, including the Scottish Government, on board so we can get this thing announced.”
He urged SNP MP Philippa Whitford to “ask the Scottish Government to join with us in ensuring we can have these air bridges in place nationwide as quickly as possible”.
First Minister Ms Sturgeon accused Mr Shapps of misrepresenting the situation, “which is disappointing but sadly not surprising”.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf claimed the British Government had repeatedly redrawn the list of countries under consideration.
He added: “We have sought, as far as possible, a four-nations approach to this issue, but such a policy requires meaningful consultation by the UK Government – something which has so far been lacking.”
Devolved administrations were presented on Wednesday with an updated list of countries which had “significantly changed” from previous versions.
“Further information, including yet more revision to the list of countries, was not provided until after the meeting had ended,” Mr Yousaf added.
“I made clear that we must be able to consider the public health impact of these changed proposals, as well as the data and evidence underpinning them, before deciding on and announcing any changes.”
The Government has come under mounting pressure to let lockdown-weary Brits go on holidays without having to quarantine when they return.
Ministers are preparing to announce quarantine-free travel to up to 75 countries, it was reported.
People could be free to travel to most of the EU, all British overseas territories and long-haul destinations including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
The Transport Secretary pledged to reveal more about air bridges “very soon” – and hinted a beefed-up testing regime at airports could help unlock travel.
Swissport, the ground handling company, and Collinson, a medical assistance provider, have been working on an airport-based testing system.
Mr Shapps said he is in touch with Swissport and “following those trials and proposals very carefully”.
He added: “We do believe it’s important to be able to provide international standards, and that may well include specific types of testing.”
Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson, 79, was blasted by MPs after flying to Greece despite Government advice urging Britons against all but essential international travel.
He arrived in Athens this week to visit his mountain villa, and posted an online video showing his plane landing in the capital.
He told the Daily Mail he was visiting the country on “essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season”.
He said: “I need to set up distancing measures at the property because they’re taking it very seriously here.
“The Greeks are trying to stop bulk arrivals from the UK but they were quite happy to have me coming in.
“All they wanted to know was where I was coming from and what I was doing.
“Then I had my temperature taken and was swabbed twice.”
Mr Johnson said air bridges must be set up “as soon as possible”, adding: “From what I’ve seen the arrival of the British will not be a danger to the Greeks because they’re so careful here.”
Shadow Minister Rosena Allin-Khan tweeted: “Most people have been following the guidelines and socially distancing – not everyone will get a holiday this year.
“Those closest to the Prime Minister have different rules though.”
Labour MP Kate Osborne said: “Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown rules now it’s @BorisJohnson’s father.
“One rule for the elite and another for everyone else it seems.
“They’re laughing directly in the face of people up and down this country. Shame.”
Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said: “This is simply further evidence that when it comes to following the rules, it is one rule for the Conservatives and one rule for everyone else.”
No10 did not comment.