‘There is plenty of food’: UK home secretary warns against panic buying as border crossing stays closed over new Covid-19 strain
The crossing at the Port of Dover has been shut since Sunday night, after European countries, including France, closed their borders to the UK over concerns about the new mutated, highly-infectious strain of Covid-19 that has spread across the South East of the country.
Patel’s comments were in response to remarks from two of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which warned on Monday that shoppers could see empty shelves begin to appear if the issue at the main transport hub between Britain and Europe is not reopened.
I don’t think anybody should be worried. There is plenty of food in our shops.
When asked about how the blockade could be resolved, Patel revealed that the government was considering using spare capacity Covid-19 tests, something the opposing Labour Party have suggested.
While the home secretary was critical of France’s decision to target hauliers, stating that they are self-contained and indicating they are low risk, but she did accept Europe needs to do “everything we can to stop the spread” of Covid-19.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and President Emmanuel Macron’s administration have been in talks over the last 24 hours, with those expected to continue today, but it’s not clear when the two sides expect to reach a resolution.
The ongoing debate between the UK and France over the new Covid-19 strain is taking place as Brexit negotiations reach a critical juncture. A deadline set by MEPs to vote on a Brexit deal has now passed and, with nine days to go until the Brexit transition period ends, the UK is preparing to accept leaving the EU without an agreement.
When asked about the differences that still exist between negotiators and whether the UK could seek to extend the transition period to attempt to secure a last-ditch deal, the home secretary was clear that there are no plans to do so. Her clear statement confirms that the UK will exit the Single Market and Customs Union on December 31 if there is no deal.
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