Last night Andrew spoke during the Covid Secure Borders debate in the house of commons. Drawing on his own experience of witnessing loved ones unable to see family abroad, he described the current red, amber, green system as "striking the right balance between caution and pragmatism".
You can read Andrews full speech below -
"I must start by thanking the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) for his contribution. We almost got through an entire debate without mentioning the constitution and I was quite worried as to what I might say, but, thankfully, the hon. Member stood up and talked about Scottish independence—and suggested, if I am not wrong, that if Scotland had gotten independence from the United Kingdom, Scotland could be a covid-free country by now. That is incredible; it could be the only country in the world, it would seem, that has no covid. He may wish to correct me by intervening, but that is what I got from his contribution.
"The hon. Gentleman suggested, too, that had Scotland been independent it might have taken different decisions from those of the UK Government, and I dare say that that might have been the case, but given the huge swathes of powers the Scottish Government already have over public health, transport, education, tourism and culture, it is incredible that just about every single decision has, with some exceptions, mirrored the decisions made by the UK Government, with some changes in terms of the timeline. I dare say we will find out when the promised public inquiry into covid in Scotland ever happens exactly what those decisions may have been that would have been so different from those taken by the UK Government.
"I would also like to thank the Opposition for securing this debate today, because while I do not agree with their motion for reasons I shall expand on shortly, this is an incredibly serious issue that deserves to be debated in the House.
"Before I go on, I should express or declare somewhat of an interest: my wife, being a Swedish national, has now not been able to see her family for a year and a half, so the restrictions on international travel are being felt very keenly indeed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon) just mentioned, when we debate this topic we should remember that in talking about travel abroad we are not talking about people going off on holiday to lie in the sun; we are talking about families and friends being separated now for an incredibly long period of time. When the Government announced that loved ones were able to hug once again in their homes in the United Kingdom, for those people with family overseas those hugs felt a very long way off indeed.
"Before I go on, I would also like to echo the passionate words of my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman)—who, sadly, is no longer in his place—in support of the aviation sector. Thousands and thousands of jobs across the country depend directly on or in support of a thriving aviation sector; those people do not want to be on furlough, and their employers—the airlines, the airport operators, the support services—do not want to be bailed out. They want to get on and do their job; to borrow from British Airways, they want to fly and to serve.
"Before coming to the Chamber today, I looked up the passenger numbers for my local airport, Aberdeen International Airport, and as a regular user I would like to put on record my thanks to all the staff there from the very top to the very bottom, who have worked tirelessly over the last year and a half to keep the airport open, operating and indeed safe—and I can say with certainty that that would be the case in every airport across the United Kingdom over the past while. But it has been a torrid year. In the first three months of this year, 62,000 passengers passed through Aberdeen airport, but in the first three months of 2020 that figure was 398,000, so that is a decline of 84.5%. This is completely unsustainable. We need to get people flying again, but we need to do it safely, and that is why protecting public health is and will remain this Government’s No. 1 priority.
"I was almost struck dumb with incredulity at Labour Members talking about a clear strategy. When Labour Members come to this place and talk about a clear strategy, we know that they are on manoeuvres. They have never been able to come up with a coherent policy for international travel. Having called for a quarantine, they then criticised the Government for introducing one. Then they changed their line again to making hotel quarantines mandatory for all of those arriving in the United Kingdom. They have called for it to be less and they have called for it to be increased. They have called for it to be expanded and they have called for the amber list to go. It is incredibly hard to keep up.
"The motion today would fail to simplify the current arrangements, and instead would create further problems and cause much greater confusion. In removing any middle ground by removing the amber list, which is what they propose today—for which, may I add, there still exists a strictly overseen, mandatory 10-day quarantine period—how do we decide where the cut-off point is between the green and the red, and what about those countries that are placed on the red list yet have far fewer cases than any other countries on that same list? It makes no sense. Such a two-tier system would no doubt cause further disruption to the aviation sector—an aviation sector the Labour party claims enthusiastically to support.
"The current traffic light system strikes the right balance, I believe, between caution and pragmatism, mitigating the risks of new variants while also allowing travel for essential reasons, and that is why I oppose the Opposition’s motion.