Minister angrily walks off GMB after being grilled over 'pointless' amber list

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Justice Secretary Robert Buckland walked off GMB in a huff after facing a grilling on international travel rules.

The minister was repeatedly asked to explain the point of the amber list amid confusion on whether holidays to these destinations – which is most countries – are allowed.

The government is advising against visiting amber countries except in ‘extreme circumstances’ such as to visit a dying relative.

But they have stopped short of making it illegal, meaning holiday companies are still offering flights and refusing refunds to people who have already booked trips.

Presenter Ranvir Singh asked Mr Buckland: ‘What is the point of an amber list? I really struggle to understand this. Why not just have a green list and a red list so people know go or don’t go.

‘What is the point of dangling this carrot of countries that might or might not be green in two weeks time?’

Mr Buckland said he did not agree that the guidelines were unclear, saying one reason for the amber list was to allow foreign nationals to go home without having to quarantine in an expensive hotel on return to the UK.

But co-presenter Kate Garraway pressed him to explain the situation around holidays and non-essential travel.

She said: ‘People have re-booked and re-booked holidays paid for before the pandemic, they can’t get a refund because its not illegal so the holiday companies won’t give them a refund.. it costs £900 or more to rebook in many cases… 270,000 people could be getting on a flight in the next five days unsure whether to lose their livelihood potentially when they come back, take risks on transport when they come back, or lose money from holiday.’

Mr Buckland said again that the point of the amber list was for ‘necessary’ journeys.

But Garraway questioned whether people would stick to this advice, citing figures which showed around 54,000 people per day planned to fly to amber listed countries between Wednesday and Sunday.

‘There can’t be 270,000 necessary journeys’, she said.

Bringing the interview to a close, Singh commented: ‘We have asked you several times to explain the relevance of the amber countries.

‘But we will leave it up to our viewers to decide whether they have been satisfied with your answers.’

Mr Buckland hit back that he could not ‘get a word in edgeways,’ but he was told by Singh: ‘Well you had a full interview.’

He then stood up and walked off camera as co-presenter Kate Garraway commented: ‘He’s off, he’s off!’

More to follow

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