Starmer branded ‘hypocritical’ for criticising ‘rip-off’ travel Covid tests – which can be more expensive in Wales
The Welsh Conservatives have branded Keir Starmer hypocritical after he criticised “rip-off” Covid tests to go abroad – while those tests can be more expensive in Labour-run Wales.
The Labour leader had said earlier today that he was “worried about the length of time it takes for tests and the costs of tests”.
“A lot of people are returning feeling they’re not entering an orderly system and frankly I think they feel they’re being ripped off,” he told ITV.
But Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said that Labour could not complain about the costs of tests while they remained more expensive in Wales.
“Just wait until Sir Keir Starmer hears about how much they’re charging for tests in Labour-run Wales where prices start from £88, over £10 more than the English average,” he said.
“But we shouldn’t expect anything less from Labour who are making it harder for working families in Wales to travel abroad, ensuring it is only an activity available to the wealthiest in our society.
“Only last month, Mark Drakeford told the Senedd said he wouldn’t instruct his civil servants to make it easier and therefore cheaper for people across Wales to go on foreign holidays.
“Once again, Starmer is happy to criticise his opponents in Westminster while turning a blind eye to what his own party are doing in Cardiff Bay.”
In Wales, two PCR tests for amber country arrivals cost £170 in total, while one PCR test for green country arrivals costs £88.
In England, some tests can be bought for as little as £29 – however, there are reports of some costing as much as £200.
Speaking on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the UK Government’s changes to international travel restrictions this week were “shambolic”, but he repeated Number 10’s advice: “This is the year to stay at home.”
Citing concerns over the “major risk” of new variants being imported, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer also criticised the UK Government over its latest revision of international travel regulations.
“The change to remove quarantine and relax testing requirements for fully vaccinated adult arrivals from amber-list countries is not without risk, increasing opportunities for variant infections to arrive in the UK and Wales,” Dr Atherton said.
On Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority, asking it to investigate “excessive” costs and “exploitative practices” among PCR Covid test firms.
He said: “I know that for too many people the cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together.
“We have all experienced enormous disruption to our lives over this pandemic but it is not right if some families experience yet further disruption unnecessarily because of potentially unfair practices in the market for private travel tests.”
In response, Keir Starmer said that he didn’t think the government’s “had a grip of borders for a very long time”.
“If it had a grip of borders we wouldn’t have the Delta variant,” he said. “It is only because the border with India wasn’t closed quickly enough that we’re in the situation we’re in.”