The Government must “get its act together” and bring Britain’s “forgotten citizens” home within a fortnight, according to a London Assembly member stranded in Mumbai.

Navin Shah, Labour member for Brent and Harrow, was visiting family in the west Indian city when the country went into lockdown and his flights home were cancelled.

He welcomed the Government’s promise yesterday of flights back – but said he was “surprised it’s taken so long”.


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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has today said airlines including BA, Virgin and Easyjet will help fly Brits home.

He said yesterday the UK will spend £75 million to charter flights if commercial routes are no longer open.

But up to a million UK subjects are still stranded abroad – and Mr Shah said ministers needed more detailed plans.

He said: “The Government needs to have a comprehensive and well-informed strategy for repatriation that has a priority list of countries together with a firm timetable – and get on with it now.

“We need mass evacuation, which should be within no more than two weeks because with every day lost you are risking more lives.”


Tottenham Independent: London Assembly member Navin Shah and his wife are currently stranded in Mumbai.London Assembly member Navin Shah and his wife are currently stranded in Mumbai.

Mr Shah said though he and his wife are safe with extended family, many Britons in India are not so fortunate.

He said: “It’s the big picture that I’m deeply concerned about. I want the Government to get their act together.

“Widespread reporting of hardships and misery faced by Brits here is true – they are the majority.

“Brits are running out of resources and have literally nowhere to go. And tragically, there is no end of the tunnel for them.”


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His calls for further help were today echoed by fellow London Assembly member Unmesh Desai, the Labour representative for east London.

Mr Desai said the Government should use army planes to bring British people back home as a matter of urgency.

He said: “We are in a situation right now, a national emergency and a global pandemic – we’ve got to use every available option.”

Mr Desai welcomed the Government’s announcements so far, saying he did not want to be “churlish” – but stressed that “as always the devil is in the detail”.

He agreed those stranded should be flown back within the next two to three weeks – and said a clear timescale would give people “peace of mind” and time to prepare.

Mr Shah said he wants to be home so he can help his constituents face the pandemic in London – his wife is a Harrow councillor, and also wants to return to work.

He said: “For us, there’s this overriding desire to return and rejoin our family and be where our home and roots are.”

He added: “Nowhere is safe in the world at this point in time and people have varying views about which countries are safest.

“We and Brits here just want to be home.”

The Government has now (March 23) ordered everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary to fight the spread of coronavirus. You can find the latest guidance here. Advice on the virus from Public Health England is available here.