Dumfriesshire Conservative MSP Resignation over Border Travel Ban

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Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell resigned from the Tory front bench at Holyrood because his party supported the SNP plans to stop non essential travel between parts or Scotland as well as across the Border.

MSPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the restrictions which are aimed at stopping people spreading the virus from higher level regions to lower ones.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said Mr Mundell was scaremongering as local people are still allowed to go to England for work, essential shopping, supporting the vulnerable and many other practical and humanitarian purposes.

“Mr Mundell knows that these new restrictions are only for non-essential travel and that people can still move between regions for reasons like work, caring for a loved one, hospital appointments or essential shopping.

“So his resignation tells people that he thinks they should still be allowed to cross the border for leisure or social reasons. This is a deeply irresponsible message to be giving out to constituents and those who live over the border in Cumbria, where the English lockdown imposes even tougher travel restrictions.

“The restrictions protect people – they help stop the spread of the virus from high to low prevalence areas, whether that’s Glasgow in level 4 or England in lockdown. Cumbria has a higher rate of covid than Dumfriesshire.

“The Scottish Tories are currently ranking their list candidates for next year’s elections. Many will see this attempt by Oliver Mundell to make public health all about the Scotland-England border as a stunt to enhance his unionist credentials with the extremist elements in his party for whom British nationalism trumps public health.

“We all hate the loss of freedom and economic damage of lockdowns across UK but most people living near the Border are more concerned about saving lives than obsessing about the Constitution and will see these antics as irresponsible and reckless.”

Annandale North Councillor Stephen Thompson said

“As a region, Dumfries and Galloway Council area restrictions are to stop non-essential travel to and from other local authority areas, particularly where they are at a higher level of infection. Whether this is South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, or Cumbria makes no odds to the COVID-19 virus. This is about the greater good and protecting public health.

“It’s a mystery as what the true rationale is for an MSP to resign based on this argument. Even if we assume that they are putting the concerns of constituents above their own personal interests, and the use of the phrase ‘very specific needs of my constituents’ is quite peculiar, there’s no logic in this obsession with the Scotland/England border. I can’t think of what non-essential, very specific needs, that are outwith work, hospital appointments, or other permitted exceptions, which would require continued unrestricted travel to Cumbria, but not Ayrshire or Lanarkshire, and would be worth resigning for.”