Coronavirus: Brits Stranded Overseas Need More Help, Says MP

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
By

Not enough is being done to aid stranded British expats and travellers who want to come home to escape the coronavirus lockdown abroad.

Former Tory cabinet minister and MP for Romney and Southampton North Caroline Nokes claims Brits abroad are in a dire situation.

Although Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged them to come home as soon as they can, Nokes claims he is speaking ‘empty words’ to thousands trapped around the world.

Responding to a question from Nokes in the Commons, Raab defended the FCO explaining the number of consular staff had been doubled and is working ‘night and day’ with other governments to arrange urgent air evacuations.

Flights cost tens of thousands of pounds

But Nokes told him that many of her constituents informed her that they could not get through to embassy staff on the phone and had received standard email messages telling them to contact their tour operator or insurer for help.

Many were hundreds of miles from airports, with hotel accommodation becoming increasingly scarce.

Commercial flights t the UK were unavailable, she said, unless they were “priced at tens of thousands of pounds and routed via airports expected to close imminently”.

“Hotels are closing, flights are cancelled, borders are closing and there are no routes home.

“Mr Raab knows the situation is dire – but he knew that last week when he said in the House that we will look and liaise with the airline operators to make sure where there are gaps we can always provide as much support as possible.

Talks to bring Brits home underway

“I ask him to explain how he is working with airlines with unused planes parked at airports around the globe to bring our people home.”

The Foreign Secretary revealed talks were underway to bring back Britons from Peru, where 400 are stranded, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

“Our overriding priority now is to assist the thousands of British travellers who need and want to return home,” said Raab.

“Where commercial options are not possible or limited by domestic restrictions we are in close contact with airlines and local authorities in those countries to overcome those barriers.”

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