Lisa Nandy seeks urgent meeting with Foreign Office over Covid-19 repatriations

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The shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, is demanding an immediate meeting with Dominic Raab as thousands of British nationals remain stranded abroad two weeks after he unveiled his £75m coronavirus rescue mission.

Her office have let the foreign secretary know they are seeking a meeting with him “as an absolute matter of urgency”, said a spokesman after a conference call with 70 MPs and staff to discuss the continuing repatriation crisis.

MPs expressed concern about Britons stranded in India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand, which closed its borders two weeks ago.

They also expressed frustration that 11 new rescue flights were being laid on for India while none were being planned for Pakistan, where it emerged there could be as many as 20,000 stranded Britons.

During the call there were also complaints that the Foreign Office was fobbing off politicians who were making representations about their constituents with stock emails and an “auto-response” saying emails were not being monitored.

Their concerns emerged as insiders complained that the crisis response seemed to involve a “head of correspondence” rather than a “head of crisis” in relation to repatriation flights.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office says that as long as the Pakistani government allows the national airline, PIA, to continue repatriation flights to London, there is no need to charter flights.
It says it has already repatriated 4,000 of 6,000 people stranded in that country and was confident it could get thousands more home on PIA flights.

However, in a conference call between the government’s South Asia minister, Lord Ahmad, the UK high commissioner in Pakistan and 10 MPs with large numbers of constituents stranded, it emerged there could be tens of thousands of Britons stuck in the country.

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