Sunday, 24 Oct 2021

‘Why are you still in Cabinet?’ Shapps admits to missing out key meeting on France status

Julia Hartley-Brewer grills Shapps on Cabinet decision making

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Tory MP and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was left squirming during a grilling from TalkRadio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer. Ms Hartley-Brewer attacked the MP after he admitted that he was not in the room for the decision that put France on the amber plus coronavirus travel list. People returning to the UK from amber plus countries must quarantine for 10 days even if they are fully vaccinated.

Mr Shapps said: “This beta variant comes from, originated in, South Africa.

“If you remember we quickly put South Africa on the red list, fortunately, because of that, in the UK, we have seen extremely low levels of the beta variant.

“Because of, possibly, of the French connection with Reunion they have had a higher proportional cases France proper, that is the conclusion that joint biosecurity centre and Health Secretary came to.

“In fact, this was done out of sequence with the three-week process, they looked at it and a decision was taken.”

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She said: “They alerted the Health Secretary, you, the Transport Secretary were not in the room for that meeting, you did not make that decision and had no part in that.

“You weren’t there when that decision was taken.”

Mr Shapps agreed he wasn’t, and Ms Hartley-Brewer replied: “The Transport Secretary wasn’t in the room when a decision was taken to put one of our closest and oldest allies and neighbouring countries, a country many were about to jet off to or jet in from, to put France on this amber plus list.

“Why are you still in the Cabinet if people are allowed to make decisions in your remit without telling you?”

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Mr Shapps nervously laughed as he replied.

He said: “I should point out that the Prime Minister is able to make decisions on anyone’s remit.

“It was on a Friday and the information was urgent and the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary looked at it and decided they needed to act immediately.

“We have always said with coronavirus you can’t sit on the data once you get it.

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“If we did, you would rightly be saying you had this knowledge, this information and you didn’t act in the best interests of the country when the alarm was raised.

“We do try to deal with all of the countries within the 3-week process.

“But there will be occasions where something is sufficiently concerning and we have to act immediately.”

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