Jacob Rees-Mogg savages Wales plan to close border to people from COVID hotspots

Watch: Jacob Rees-Mogg savages Wales plan to close border

  • Wales says it will ban entry on Friday to people from areas of UK with high COVID infections

Jacob Rees-Mogg has savaged Wales’ plan to close its borders in an attempt to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

First minister Mark Drakeford has said Wales will ban entry to people from areas of the UK with high levels of COVID-19 infections by Friday if Boris Johnson fails to impose UK-wide travel restrictions.

Rees-Mogg hit back in the House of Commons on Thursday, saying it would be “unconstitutional”.

The Commons leader said: “What would you expect of a hard-left Labour government?

'What would you expect of a hard-left Labour government?' Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons on Thursday. (Parliamentlive.tv)
Jacob Rees-Mogg hit out at the Welsh plans. (Parliamentlive.tv)

“The approach to putting a border between England and Wales is unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the UK.

“We are one single UK and we should not have… borders between different parts of the UK.

“And I’m afraid that is what you get when you vote for socialists.”

Drakeford has said police will be able to use number plate recognition to enforce the travel ban.

CWMBRAN, WALES - AUGUST 03: First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks to the press during a visit to Page's fish and chip shop restaurant on August 3, 2020 in Cwmbran, Wales. Coronavirus lockdown measures continue to be eased as the number of excess deaths in Wales falls below the five-year average. From today up to 30 people can meet outdoors and pubs, restaurants and cafes can open to customers indoors. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Mark Drakeford (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Later on Thursday, Wales secretary Simon Hart said the ban “risks stirring division and confusion”.

In a letter written to Drakeford asking for clarification about the restrictions, Hart wrote: “I remain worried that, without rapid explanation, this approach risks stirring division and confusion in Wales.

“We both know that, in reality, communities in Wales are as hard-hit by COVID-19 as English, Scottish and Northern Irish communities.

“Your recent comment about residents in west Wales being ‘on the lookout for people who shouldn’t be in those areas’ is an example of exactly the situation we should be trying to avoid.”

Drakeford earlier said he was “baffled” by Johnson’s reluctance to impose travel restrictions on people in COVID-19 hotspots across the UK.

“I never wanted this to become an issue of the border and people travelling in and out of Wales,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“I’ve always thought it’s an issue of high-incidence areas and low-incidence areas, wherever they may be.

“The prime minister says to me he’s issued guidance. The problem with that is the police can’t take action on the basis of guidance, they have to have the force of law behind them.”

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