Johnson and Macron to discuss coronavirus quarantine in Downing Street talks
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government wants to ‘open up’ the UK when it ‘safely and responsibly’ can.
Boris Johnson is set to discuss an easing of coronavirus quarantine measures when he holds talks with Emmanuel Macron in Downing Street on Thursday.
The French president is visiting London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his predecessor Charles de Gaulle’s “Appel” – a BBC broadcast to occupied France following the Nazi invasion in 1940.
Mr Macron will be received by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, before a ceremonial event, and then bilateral talks in Number 10. He will bestow France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur, on London.
The Prime Minister is expected to discuss the UK’s current two-week quarantine for all arrivals with his French counterpart, amid reports that Mr Macron will call on the Government to revisit the decision.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government wants to “open up” the UK when it “safely and responsibly” can, and said ministers are looking “very carefully” at the measure.
He told Sky News: “As we’ve always said, the quarantine is there to stop the risk of reinfection precisely because we’ve got Covid down.”
Asked why it is in place when UK infection rates are higher than France, he said: “It’s not quite as simple as that though, because we’ve seen in Europe and in Asia, as countries come out of lockdown, the risk of second waves and second spikes.
“But we will look at all the factors very carefully. We want to open up as soon as we safely and responsibly can and we will look at all the mechanisms to do so, and of course we’ll have a good conversation with the French.
“I’ll be in Berlin tomorrow so we’re talking to all of our European partners about these things.”
In Downing Street, Mr Johnson and Mr Macron will view artefacts – including letters – documenting General de Gaulle’s time in London and his partnership with Sir Winston Churchill.
The statue of Britain’s wartime leader in Parliament Square was uncovered on Wednesday evening ahead of the French president’s arrival, after it was boarded up for fear of attack by protesters.
The two leaders will also watch a flypast of the Red Arrows and their French equivalent, La Patrouille de France, to mark the anniversary of the Appel.
Mr Johnson said: “Eighty years ago, Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the French Resistance, arrived in London knowing that the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy that Britain and France shared were under threat.
“He pledged that we would stand together to defend those values and protect our citizens from those bent on destroying us.
“The four men we are honouring today – Pierre, Edgard, Daniel and Hubert – symbolise the enduring depth and strength of the friendship between our two countries.
“They are heroes, and I am immensely proud that, as a nation, we are paying tribute to their courage and sacrifice in defending us and the whole world from fascism.
“The struggles we face today are different to those we confronted together 80 years ago. But I have no doubt that – working side by side – the UK and France will continue to rise to every new challenge and seize every opportunity that lies ahead.”