Politics

Coronavirus: Government Won't Rule Out Asking Military To Repatriate Stranded UK Nationals

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab told MPs such a measure would be a "last resort".

The Foreign Secretary has said the Government is not ruling out calling on the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to help to repatriate UK nationals stranded due to coronavirus.

Speaking to MPs, Dominic Raab said, "something like that would be a last resort", and the decision to repatriate nationals would have to be taken "on an individual basis".

Mr Raab was responding to calls from Tory Mark Pritchard, for the Foreign Secretary to work with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to deploy the Navy and Air Force "to repatriate the most vulnerable".

Mr Pritchard stated he agreed with Mr Raab, saying: "We can’t repatriate everybody, it’s just physically impossible."

Mr Raab said: "Obviously I’ve engaged very closely with the Defence Secretary on this.

"But something like that would be a last resort, we don’t rule anything out at this stage."

On the government's current stance on repatriation, he added: "It’s not so much we won’t, it’s just a pure question of capacity given the potential range of hundreds of thousands of UK nationals travelling temporarily abroad."

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson said the Army was "ready to backfill" for the police "as and when" required, as part of "long-established plans" for worst-case scenarios.

A total of 38 non-uniform military planners are also being made ready to assist public services.

Yesterday, the Defence Secretary dismissed reports that the British Army could be drafted in to protect shops as "entirely fictional".

Cover image: Library image of a C-17 aircraft (Picture: RAF).