Labour MP says 'Afghanistan had more controls than we did' over Covid-19 spread at airports

Siobhain McDonagh

Siobhain McDonagh on Politics Live - Credit: Twitter

A Labour MP has claimed Afghanistan was quicker and more effective at implementing restrictions at its borders to contain the coronavirus than Britain.

Siobhain McDonagh said No 10's border policy during the pandemic had been "a mess".

Panellists on BBC 2's Politics Live were discussing a ban on flights to and from Brazil in light of a new variant originating in the country when McDonagh made her opinions known.

"At one point in the summer we were the only country to have no regulations for people coming through our border," she said.

"Afghanistan had more controls than we did."

The Mitcham and Morden MP said border control officers were only checking 10% of arrivals to ensure they were self-isolating.

"The truth is [that] it's a mess," McDonagh argued, before predicting the government would yet again be too slow to impose flight restrictions on Brazil.

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The Daily Telegraph's Tim Stanley agreed.

He said: "The one thing we definitely should be doing is controlling borders and checking people coming in and out of the country. 

"It’s astonishing there are so many holes in that system.

"It's a global pandemic, therefore, if you're trying to control the spread in your own population then it makes sense you try to do the same internationally."

Stanley said Downing Street had a bad tendency of saying new restrictions were unnecessary and then backtracking "a couple of days later".

"It looks like the government in Westminster is reacting and it's reacting in a slower way than other people, to something that many of us seems rather quite obvious".

Reacting online, Jim Craig said: "As an island, we had such an advantage over other countries but failed to make use of the fact. Governed by incompetents."

Mik Lote argued: "Afghanistan has significantly fewer people entering the country than the UK. Boat and trainloads come to Dover on a half-hourly basis. 40% of our food comes into the country on a daily basis. International comparisons should be avoided, each has its own peculiarities."

The UK government has now introduced a ban on UK-bound arrivals from South America and Portugal from Friday over concerns about the Brazilian coronairus variant.

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