Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has written to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urging him to mount a rescue operation for British Citizens stranded abroad as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Mr McCabe was moved to act following receipt of a large number of pleas from constituents stranded overseas, particularly in Australia and New Zealand and the Indian Subcontinent. Flights from Australia and New Zealand to the UK are becoming increasingly rare as airlines cancel routes in response to the spread of Covid-19. Those airlines still operating are raising their prices with the cost of a one-way flight now running into thousands of pounds.
India has been placed under full lockdown with no commercial flights entering or leaving the country. Current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice to British nationals in India states that they “should be prepared to stay in country until commercial flights resume”. With many hotels instructed to refuse entry to foreign nationals, it is an increasingly worrying time for British nationals who are unable to leave.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“I appreciate that this is an unprecedented and challenging situation and I am grateful for all the work that Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff are doing around the world to reassure British nationals desperate to return to the UK.
However, I think the time has come for the Government to take more direct action to repatriate its citizens. I understand the German Government is now chartering flights to repatriate its citizens from many of the same countries where UK nationals remain trapped.
The Foreign Secretary needs to act. MPs all over the country are being deluged with desperate pleas to help constituents stranded abroad. We are not getting satisfactory answers and the time has come to step up a gear. I want to know that action will be taken to repatriate citizens who are in countries where flights are severely restricted because of availability or cost. This is especially worrying in the case of those people without accommodation or running out of medicines.”