Former minister Andrea Leadsom has criticised prime minister Boris Johnson’s “unacceptable failings of leadership” following the publication of the Sue Gray report.
In a letter to her constituents, published on social media, Leadsom said she believed it is “extremely unlikely that senior leaders were unaware of what was going on.”
I therefore agree with Sue Gray’s conclusions that there have been significant failures of leadership, both political and official, in No 10 and the Cabinet Office.
The Tory MP for South Northamptonshire added:
Each of my Conservative MP colleagues and I must now decide individually on what the right course of action that will restore confidence in our Government.
Leadsom did not call for Johnson to resign in her letter.
Her intervention is a further blow to Johnson as a steady stream of Tory MPs have been calling on the prime minister to stand down in the wake of Gray’s report last week.
A committed Brexiteer, Leadsom backed Johnson for the leadership in 2019 after pulling out of the contest herself, underlining the fact that discontent with the prime minister extends across the party.
The travel industry should have been better prepared for a surge in post-pandemic holidays, a government minister has said, after scenes of travel chaos in airports before the half-term break.
The arts minister, Stephen Parkinson, a former adviser to Theresa May, said the disruption was causing “a lot of distress” for people who had not been able to get away for several years because of the pandemic.
Flight cancellations have led to many passengers facing long delays to their half-term breaks. EasyJet has cancelled more than 200 flights to and from Gatwick between 28 May and 6 June. The airline’s Twitter feed has been referring dozens of stranded Gatwick passengers to its disruption help webpage.
Tui also made several last-minute cancellations including from Gatwick, Birmingham and Bristol, blaming “operational and supply chain issues”.
Airports are under particular pressure because of the widespread use of travel vouchers from previously cancelled holidays, and this week will be the first school holidays in England and Wales since the lifting of all UK Covid travel restrictions.
The chief executive of the Airline Management Group, Peter Davies, said the industry was likely to be reluctant to spend money to tackle the bottlenecks faced by passengers.
When you’ve got thousands of people arriving at Heathrow at seven o’clock in the morning, and that’s been happening for years, where you’ve got a lot of people arriving on overnight flights, then you should gear yourself up to make sure you can handle those people.
But of course that costs money and it costs space, and people are reluctant often to do that.
Lord Parkinson said that airlines and airports had been urged by the government to hire more staff to cope with demand.
He told Sky News:
Colleagues in the Department for Transport are working with the industry, we have been for months urging them to make sure they’ve got enough staff so that thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, as people are able to travel again, people can take the holidays that they’ve missed and that they’ve deserved,” he told Sky News.
Of course it’s causing a lot of distress for people, particularly in half-term, people with family and children with them.
It’s very distressing if you turn up at the airport and your flight isn’t ready, so we’ve been saying to the industry that they need to prepare for this: they need to have the staff that they need to make sure people can get away and enjoy holidays.
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Billions of pounds given away in a tax break for UK oil and gas exploitation could have permanently cut the energy bills of 2m homes by £342 a year if invested in insulation measures, according to a green thinktank.
Rishi Sunak announced the 91% tax break alongside a windfall tax on the huge profits of oil and gas companies last week. The E3G thinktank calculated that the tax break would hand between £2.5bn and £5.7bn back to the oil companies over three years, while an energy efficiency programme of £3bn over the same period would upgrade 2.1m homes making them less reliant on gas.
Soaring international gas prices are expected to more than double energy bills in a year by October, pushing a third of households into fuel poverty. Proponents of energy efficiency, including loft and wall insulation, say it is a no-regrets investment that cuts bills for good, slashes the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis and boosts jobs. Green groups said the chancellor’s grants to households partly funded by the windfall tax were only a “sticking plaster”.
Another report published on Tuesday by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) found that a £4bn annual investment in energy efficiency could permanently halve heating bills for households by 2035. Its author said Sunak was handing out “raincoats” but “failing to fix the roof”.
The tax reduction meets official definitions of a fossil fuel subsidy, which the UK and other countries had pledged to phase out. It incentivises new oil and gas production, despite a recent Guardian investigation finding that the fossil fuel industry is already planning projects that would blow the world’s chances of maintaining a liveable climate.
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The aviation sector is reluctant to “gear up” for thousands of people arriving because of the increased costs, the chief executive of the Airline Management Group has said.
Asked what the industry can do to cope with demand, Peter Davies told LBC:
Well, they have to gear up as quickly as possible in terms of staff, particularly through the airports with security.
However, he said they is a reluctance to increase staff numbers.
When you’ve got thousands of people arriving at Heathrow at seven o’clock in the morning, and that’s been happening for years, where you got a lot of people arriving on overnight flights, then you should gear yourself up to make sure you can handle those people.
But of course that costs money and it costs space, and people are reluctant often to do that.
The arts minister, Stephen Parkinson, said the “industry should have been recruiting people ready” for the increased demand for travel.
Asked if government could have done more to help the aviation sector during the pandemic, Lord Parkinson told Sky News that the government had helped but put the blame squarely on the travel sector not recruiting enough people ready for its busiest season now restrictions have lifted.
We’ve been helping people across the whole economy with support for jobs, but of course the pandemic hit lots of sectors in lots of different ways.
There was a period when people just simply weren’t able to travel for obvious reasons, but there’s been many months where we’ve been back on track, particularly since the vaccination to this moment and the industry should have been recruiting people ready.
The companies should have had the people in place and we’re working with colleagues in the department for transport to make sure that they can get people in as swiftly as possible.
He added: “We need clear communication from the companies to the people that are travelling, and colleagues at the Department for Transport are working with the industry to make sure they’re getting people in as swiftly as they can.”
Shadow financial secretary to the Treasury James Murray said that the “government hasn’t prepared” for the rise in demand for travel.
The Labour MP told Sky News said Labour had been warning there would be problems after the travel sector cut staff during the pandemic and are now struggling to cope with the increased demand.
We’ve been warning for months throughout the Covid pandemic that you can’t just let the airline industry and airports fall over, let them shed all of their staff, and then expect to get back on track when demand comes back after the pandemic.
We were warning about this, trade unions were warning about this, employee representatives were saying throughout the Covid pandemic ‘You need a sector-specific package to support the aviation sector’, and now we’re seeing what’s happened because the government hasn’t prepared for what would obviously come next.
He added: “The government was not working with the airlines to get that sector-specific package in place during the pandemic.”
Murray argued that the government “didn’t step up” and now people are seeing the impact of that as people’s holidays are impacted.
It felt fairly obvious what was happening during the pandemic in that people were not travelling, were not flying throughout the pandemic, but then, once the pandemic starts to recede, air travel would start to pick up again and the government simply didn’t do what was necessary during the pandemic to get ready for what’s happening now, and now we’re seeing the impact of it.
He added that there had been added chaos because of the problems people are facing trying to apply for passports or renew their passports, which Murray says was also something that should have been predicted ahead of time and planned for.
The other aspect of this as well, and not to forget, is all of the chaos in terms of passports and the fact that that was predictable as well… It’s something where a bit of common sense, a bit of planning… if the government had had their mind focused on what was coming they could have prepared for this.
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