Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab ‘risk losing seats at election over Covid travel chaos’

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab risk losing their seats at the next election because of the chaos over foreign travel, a report backed by a former Tory party chairman warns.

The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary hold seats in constituencies with the highest number of aviation jobs which have been threatened by the Government’s border closures and Covid travel restrictions.

Some 3,356 voters in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge seat are directly employed in aviation, enough to slash his 7,210 majority to within a whisker of defeat if they switched to other parties. The 1,666 aviation jobs in Mr Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency could wipe out his slender 2,743 majority.

They are among 158 parliamentary seats – a quarter of the total – which have more than 1,000 aviation workers, according to the report by the York Aviation consultancy for Airlines UK, which represents Britain’s biggest airlines.

In an online article for The Telegraph, Lord Patrick McLoughlin, a former Tory party chairman and Transport Secretary, warned aviation workers felt “increasingly abandoned” by the Government as it presided over “a much weaker aviation recovery than in Europe, the US and elsewhere”.

There are 1,666 aviation jobs in Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency, which could wipe out his slender majority of 2,743

Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

While holiday bookings in Germany are now at 60 per cent of 2019 levels and at 48 per cent in France, the UK’s bookings are down at just 16 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers. “That is a horror show for a sector that relies on the summer season to make its money,” said Lord McLoughlin.

He warned that it left the industry effectively in “purgatory” with many of the total 536,000 aviation jobs identified by the constituency-by-constituency research in the UK at risk.

“Make no mistake, these jobs are under threat. You cannot support 500,000 jobs with just 16 per cent of pre-pandemic bookings,” said Lord McLoughlin, who was last week appointed chair of Airlines UK.

“As the domestic economy fully unlocks, air travel cannot remain stuck in its current purgatory of being just open enough to struggle on, taking on more debt, and shedding more jobs, but not closed enough to give Government no choice but to accept that more support will be needed.

“Aviation was vital to the success of the UK, and to our local communities. Time is running out for ministers to realise that.”

Britain has maintained tougher restrictions on foreign travel as the rest of Europe has opened up to holidaymakers with its green certification system that lifts all quarantine for jabbed or Covid-tested visitors.

The report found that 60 per cent of constituencies had 500 or more residents working in aviation jobs while only three constituencies had fewer than 100 aviation jobs.

It showed Crawley, held by Tory MP Henry Smith, chair of the all party future of aviation group, was the most reliant on aviation jobs with a total of 10,297, primarily because of its coverage of Gatwick.

It found most aviation jobs were well-paid at between 22 per cent and 60 per cent above the national or local average, with hubs not just in the south east of England but also north west, east and south west of the country.

Other vulnerable seats included those in the so-called Red Wall such as Derby North, held by science minister Amanda Solloway with a majority of 2,540, that would be wiped out if the 5,380 aviation workers switched allegiance.

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