The Sunday Telegraph

Shapps has no influence on Cabinet, claims former BA boss

- By Charles Hymas and Oliver Gill

GRANT SHAPPS has been so ineffectiv­e in restoring foreign travel that his post should be renamed “secretary of state for no transport,” the veteran airline boss Willie Walsh has claimed.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the former British Airways boss and now director general of the Internatio­nal Air Transport Associatio­n (IATA), said the restrictio­ns on travel were repressive, economical­ly damaging, wrong headed, extremely risk-averse and based on politics rather than science.

“Since I joined BA back in 2005, I have worked with 10 secretarie­s of state, going back to Alistair Darling. I would rate Darling as the best of the 10,” said Mr Walsh.

“I would put Shapps at number nine. He is incredibly ineffectiv­e as Secretary of State for Transport. He should change his name to secretary of state for no transport … He doesn’t appear to be able to influence any decision in Cabinet.”

The sharpness of his attack underlines the depth of the fracture in relations between the travel industry and the Government after its decision to axe Portugal from its green list.

Mr Walsh said he could only conclude the Government was pursuing a zero Covid strategy, which he feared would make Britain a “very strange” place. “It is extremely risk-averse. It’s not restrictiv­e, it’s now become repressive,” he said.

He believed this approach was politicall­y, rather than medically driven, based on a belief that it would garner votes from the public. He added: “We’re not dealing with health risk. We’re dealing with political risk, which is a completely different situation.”

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