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MP’s coronavirus plea: ‘Bring stranded Britons home’

Labour’s Karen Buck calls on the foreign secretary to step up efforts during crisis

20 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Karen Buck: ‘I have a constituent on the Silver Spirit cruise ship outside Darwin [Australia] who is 78 years old and in extremely poor health’

KAREN Buck has warned that cases of Westminster residents trapped abroad because of coronavirus are flooding in to her “every few hours”.

The Labour MP for Westminster North told the foreign secretary Dominic Raab she had been ­contacted by several constituents stuck in countries all over the world.

In a debate in the House of Commons, she told Mr Raab: “I have a constituent on the Silver Spirit cruise ship outside Darwin [Australia] who is 78 years old and in extremely poor health.

“We are told that there are issues with the financial viability of the cruise line and the safety of supplies.

“I have a constituent in Peru who has multiple problems and whose mother is desperate. I had a case in from Morocco this morning; they are coming in every few hours.

“Can the minister help with those cases, and can he assure us that capacity is being reviewed so we can urgently upscale it, at least for the coming weeks?”

The Silver Spirit is believed to have 600 passengers on board who have been forced to quarantine on the ship. Countries have closed their borders and locked down their airspace due to the COVID-19 outbreak, meaning that holidaymakers and tourists face a nervous wait to get back home.

It means thousands of Britons have been left stranded abroad as travel restrictions take hold amid the pandemic.

Residents are also fearing that they will struggle to leave the country with advice not to travel unless essential looking set to turn into an order from the government.

Mr Raab replied: “I reassure the honourable lady that, in both the cases she referred to, we are actively looking at the solutions we can provide for UK nationals.

“She is right to raise the issue of scalable support. I am making sure that all the resource ­available will be focused on coronavirus in the weeks ahead so, of course, there is an ­element of scalability.

“We have the resilience to get through this crisis and I am confident that we will.”

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