The shadow home secretary has reiterated calls for tougher border restrictions after 105 cases of the South African Covid-19 variant were identified in eight different areas of England.

Nick Thomas-Symonds tweeted that the news was “deeply worrying” and showed the current quarantine system “isn’t working” with around 21,000 people arriving each day.

Thomas-Symonds called on Conservative MPs to back a Labour motion that is due to be presented in Westminster on Monday evening calling for the quarantine hotel system to be extended to all arrivals.

However, the prime minister is reported to have ordered Conservative MPs to abstain on the motion and any result of the vote would not be binding.


The hotel quarantine system, which has been announced but not yet implemented, currently targets arrivals from countries on the government’s “red list”, including South America and Southern Africa, in addition to Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

The Labour motion also calls for the introduction of a sector support package for aviation focused on “employment and environmental improvements”.

Thomas-Symonds tweeted: “Deeply worrying & shows the UK Govmt’s quarantine system isn’t working -UK is exposed to virus mutations with around 21,000 people arriving every day. Conservative MPs must vote with @UKLabour today to secure our borders against Covid & help stop vaccine progress being undermined.”

At a government briefing later on Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that 11 of 105 cases of the South African variant located in the UK did not appear to have links to international travel.

He said there was no evidence to suggest the variant was any more dangerous, but vowed to “come down hard on it”.