South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has questioned Transport Secretary Michael Matheson about the logistics behind how any border closure would be enforced.
Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon threatened to close the border between Scotland and England.
The threat came after a series of loopholes became clear in the Scottish Government’s new quarantine policy. The Scottish Government originally claimed everyone arriving in Scotland would have to quarantine for 10 days in managed hotels. However, this won’t apply to anyone who travels from overseas from so called non-red list countries enroute to Scotland via English airports or airports in the Republic or Ireland.
Speaking virtually during Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Colin Smyth asked: “In the absence of an agreement [with the UK Government], the Scottish Government has said that it doesn’t rule out closing the Scotland-England border.
“Given that there are 22 roads and two railways which cross the border and every day thousands of people travel, mainly from south Scotland to the north of England and back, for work, for healthcare and for education, can the cabinet secretary enlighten us on the government’s thinking on how our already overstretched police could enforce the closure of the border to try to stop someone who, for example, landed at Manchester Airport, without stopping everyone carrying out legitimate essential travel?”
Michael Matheson said if the UK Government did not change their policy, all options would be considered to minimise the potential risk of introducing new variants of Covid-19 into Scotland.
Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth added: “The cabinet secretary’s failure to answer my question was very telling. With so many roads crossing into England, as well as two railway lines, policing a border closure would be a logistical nightmare.
“The First Minister has repeatedly threatened to close the border between Scotland and England, and while people understand that everything must be done to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it is clear that this is simply tough talk from the Government to distract attention from the loopholes in the UK and Scottish Government’s quarantine policy. Instead of the constant bickering between the two Governments, it’s time they started to work together to put in place a quarantine policy that keeps Scotland safe.”