Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to ditch his “confused and contradictory” traffic light system for travel overseas.
The Labour leader accused the government of triggering a surge in holiday-makers with mixed messages over the rules on trips to “amber list” areas, which include most of the countries in the world.
After days in which ministers have contradicted one another over whether travel to amber list countries like France or Spain is permitted to visit friends or take holidays, Mr Johnson told the House of Commons that trips are allowed only in “extreme circumstances”.
Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Mr Johnson said: “You should not be going to an amber list country except for for in extreme circumstances, such as the serious illness of a family member. You should not go on holiday.”
But Sir Keir told him: “Yesterday morning the environment secretary said people could fly to amber list countries if they wanted to visit family or friends. By the afternoon a government health minister said nobody should travel outside Britain this year, becaiuse travelling is dangerous.
“The prime minister said that travel from a country should only be where it’s essential. By the evening, the Welsh Secretary suggested, some people might think a holiday is essential.
“The government’s lost control of the messaging.”
Sir Keir said that 170 countries had been placed on the amber list on Monday, removing the previous ban on travel and requiring people arriving from those destinations in England to quarantine at home, not at an airport hotel.
“If he doesn’t want people to travel to amber list countries, if that’s his position, why is he making it easier to do so?”
Sir Keir told MPs that since the trade restrictions were loosened on Monday, 150 flights have been going every day to amber list countries, with travel agents reporting “surges” in holiday bookings.
“This isn’t a coincidence,” he said. “It’s because of the messaging.”