Let me start my contribution and end it on this point: there is no earthly reason why restrictions cannot be lifted on what has been dubbed freedom day, 21 June. Right now, we are in danger of winning the battle but losing the war, destroying our aviation industry and all connected to it in the process. I concur with every word of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) said in her excellent speech. As she said, our extraordinary vaccine roll-out is working, with half the population inoculated twice, yet after 15 months of restrictions, the traffic light scheme, welcomed as a phased restart to international travel, has proved a false dawn, being used only to further curtail our freedoms.
This week holidaymakers faced chaos after Portugal went from green to amber with no warning. The cost to the travel industry in all its guises is truly terrifying. I have a lot of respect for the Minister, but his fine words ring hollow, I am afraid, and I fundamentally disagree with the Government’s confused stance. The aviation industry has seen its value plummet, with half its staff still on furlough and 1.5 million jobs at risk.
This situation is totally unacceptable. We are squandering the advantage created by our pioneering vaccination programme for fear of new variants, which are here to stay and which we must—must—learn to live with. “Global Britain” is our battle cry, but countries with weaker vaccination programmes than ours are opening up faster. Spain and, shortly, France no longer require fully vaccinated passengers to quarantine. We must urgently move them and other low-risk countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal and the USA on to the green list.
The travel and tourism industry is planning a day of action on 23 June. We must support it, scrap the onerous burdens it faces, reduce the number of tests and allow fully vaccinated passengers to travel restriction-free. Let me finish as I began: freedom day on 21 June must be respected. It is time for state control to end and for common sense to return.