Boris Johnson warned “things are looking difficult on the Continent” when questioned by MPs yesterday on the prospects of holidays abroad this summer.

Appearing before the Liaison Committee of MPs on Wednesday, the prime minister confirmed he would “set out what I see may be possible from May 17” after seeing the recommendations of the Global Travel Taskforce on April 5 – a week earlier than previously expected.

But he warned: “Things are looking difficult on the Continent and we will have to look at the situation as it develops.”

Johnson was responding to a question from Conservative MP William Wragg who asked whether recent comments by scientific advisers to the government suggesting holidays abroad this summer may not be possible reflected official policy.

MP Huw Merriman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, asked how detailed the prime minister’s announcement on international travel on April 5 would be.

Johnson told him: “We hope we can get people moving again by May 17, [but] we will just have to see where we get to, where other countries get to and what the data is telling us.”

Merriman also asked about discussions with other governments such as with the US on restarting travel.

Johnson said countries around the world are looking at “when things can get moving” and said: “There is a growing global consensus that evidence of vaccination or immunity or a negative test will be valuable for the purposes of aviation.”

When asked whether the taskforce would go so far as listing countries deemed safe for British travellers, Johnson said: “I think, with great respect, you’re probably going to have to wait until April 5 to see the details.

“The hope is that we can get people moving again by May 17, by step three, in the way that I’ve set out in the roadmap.

“We’ll just have to see where we get to and where other countries get to and what the data is telling us.”

He added: “We’re getting there step by step, jab by jab – we’re not there yet but I’ll be saying more on April 5 and then on April 12, and we will do what we can.”

His comments came as one senior Conservative MP called on the taskforce to avoid an “excess of caution” and another called for a “risk-based” framework that allows international travel to resume safely soon.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, invited Johnson to admit he made a mistake by not closing the UK’s borders with France last March and asked why France was not now on the ‘red list’ of countries in light of the spread of Covid-19 variants in the country.

Johnson insisted the UK has “very tough measures against people bringing the virus into the country” and said if circumstances change: “We will have to look at tougher measures.”

The Liaison Committee is made up of the chairs of Parliament’s select committees.