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Tory MPs voice frustration over Sage travel advice leak

Conservative MPs have voiced frustration at the leak of minutes from the government’s Sage advisory committee which advocated more severe restrictions on international travel.

The minutes were leaked to the BBC on Wednesday and highlighted the value of pre-departure Covid tests and day 5 and 8 post-arrival tests in identifying cases.

On Tuesday, Labour called for the reintroduction of pre-departure tests for people travelling to the UK. This followed calls from the Scottish and Welsh governments for day eight tests to be reintroduced along with self-isolation until the second test result was returned.

Prime minister Boris Johnson later defended measures introduced by the government in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, telling the House of Commons they were “balanced and proportionate” and “the right approach to take”.

A number of Tory MPs subsequently voiced their anger about the leak, the Daily Mail reported.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith called for Sage to be broken up, accusing advisors of trying to “bounce” ministers into making decisions.

Arguing the government had been proved right in its decision to open up over the summer, he added: “Tougher restrictions now, when we have no idea what this variant does, would just be another unnecessary hammer blow to the economy.”

Huw Merriman, chair of the House of Commons transport select committee, told the Mail: “These are the same voices of doom who resisted the relaxation of the barriers to international travel over the last year and were proven wrong in the process.”

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