The Government is right to speak of Global Britain and its actions demonstrate a clear commitment to this idea.
Where this is not being reciprocated currently is the way our country is taking too long to safely restart international travel.
This was my call to the Department for Transport in a parliamentary debate I led last week on support for the aviation, tourism and travel industries.
Like other sectors, these businesses want to reopen safely, rather than rely on Government handouts.
These industries have an urgency compared with other parts of the economy, however. They were among the first sectors to close at the start of the pandemic and could be some of the slowest to recover.
The best way which the Government can support aviation, tourism and travel is to work towards a reopening of international travel which is safe for passengers and workers alike. The summer season can be where this industry bounces back.
This is about far more than two weeks in the sun. The importance of Gatwick Airport and surrounding employers not only secures jobs and prosperity for many people locally, but represents the UK’s position as an outward-looking, trading nation.
The traffic light system does have its advantages of course, as we need to protect ourselves from the spread of the virus and the introduction to Britain of new variants.
For countries which have similar vaccination roll-out successes and similar or lower infection rates than the UK, we need to have a much more pragmatic regime for amber and green list countries.
I am writing ahead of England’s Euro 2020 game with Germany and I wish former Crawley resident Gareth Southgate and his team the best of luck.
It is encouraging that the semi-finals and final at Wembley Stadium will welcome 60,000 fans, which will be permitted under the Government’s test events programme.
Where I have concerns, which I raised in my debate, is allowing UEFA VIPs exemption from quarantine regulations. This cannot be right particularly at a time where some schools are choosing not to hold sports days in a way which parents may expect.
When parents cannot go to school sports days, VIPs should not be able to come to Wembley.
It is to the Government’s credit that over 75 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered.
In Crawley we recently hit the milestone of 70,000 people receiving their first dose. Three in five adults in the UK have now had both doses of the vaccine.
Let us utilise this nation’s vaccine dividend, reopen international travel safely, and support our airport communities in Crawley, the wider Gatwick area, and the whole United Kingdom.
Henry Smith MP