Boris Johnson's vaccine passports plan in jeopardy

Boris Johnson’s vaccine passport plans in jeopardy as Keir Starmer ‘is likely to oppose’ the ‘discriminatory’ documents and Tory rebels demand PM put them to a vote as they warn checks will create ‘two tier Britain’

  • Sources: Keir Starmer and Labour likely to oppose domestic vaccine passports 
  • Some 40 Tory MPs already set out their opposition to the use of the documents
  • Boris Johnson left the door open to the documents being used for access to pubs

Boris Johnson’s plans for domestic vaccine passports are in jeopardy after it was claimed Sir Keir Starmer and Labour will oppose the rollout of the documents.  

Some 40 Tory MPs have already made clear they are against ‘Covid Status Certification’, warning that introducing the checks in everyday life would create a ‘two tier’ nation. 

The initial findings of a Government review on how the passports could be used left the door open to the documents being required for access to pubs and restaurants.  

A senior Labour source told The Guardian that Sir Keir and other prominent Labour figures ‘are all minded to vote against’ the documents amid fears over how the scheme could work and its cost. 

Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth appeared to harden the party’s stance further this morning as he said the passports would be ‘discriminatory’. 

Tory MPs have demanded Mr Johnson put any passport plan to a vote in the House of Commons but the Prime Minister sidestepped the request at a Downing Street press conference last night. 

Labour’s reported stance on the subject means that any vote could be very tight, with Mr Johnson’s fate likely to be determined by how big of a Tory revolt he suffers. 

A senior Labour source told The Guardian that Sir Keir and other senior Labour figures ‘are all minded to vote against’ domestic vaccine passports

Boris Johnson is facing a growing Tory revolt over domestic vaccine passports and if Labour opposes the documents he could struggle to win a vote on the issue in the House of Commons

The initial findings of the review on the certification scheme said the documents could have an ‘important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure’. 

The Government ruled out using the documents to determine access to public transport or essential shops. 

But the findings said ‘it is possible that COVID-status certification could also play a role in reducing social distancing requirements in other settings which people tend to visit more frequently, for example in hospitality settings’. 

Tory MPs back the use of the documents for international travel but many have significant privacy and civil liberties concerns about using them domestically. 

Sir Keir made clear his concerns over the potential use of the documents in day-to-day life in an interview with The Telegraph last week. 

He said: ‘My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don’t actually want to go down this road.’ 

Mr Ashworth went further this morning when he was asked during an interview on BBC Breakfast whether he intended to vote against domestic vaccine passports. 

He said: ‘Well, the problem is the Government actually hasn’t produced the piece of legislation which highlights the details of how this is going to work.

‘Last night when Boris Johnson was asked he couldn’t explain his own policy.

‘So at the moment we are unconvinced but it is up to ministers to convince the country that they have a plan in place and what they are going to do.

‘When we see the details of their legislation we will study it carefully.’

Pushed again on whether he would vote against the plans, he replied: ‘I am not going to support a policy that for here in my Leicester constituency if somebody wants to go into Next or H&M they have to produce a vaccination certificate on their phone on an app. I think that is discriminatory.’ 

Meanwhile, a Labour source told Politico: ‘On the basis of what we’ve seen and discussed with ministers, we oppose the Government’s plans for domestic vaccine passports. 

‘They appear poorly thought through, will put added burdens on business and run the risk of becoming another expensive Whitehall project that gets outsourced to friends of Tory ministers.’

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi today insisted that the vaccine passports issue is a work in progress. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think it is important to unpack the certificate question a little bit. 

‘As the Prime Minister explained yesterday, you are not going to be required to have a certificate if you go into the pub garden on Monday or if you inside the pub in May.

‘But I think it is only right and responsible to look at all options available to us to be able to reopen the economy in as safe a way as possible.’ 

Mr Johnson put himself on a potential collision course with Tory rebels last night after he hinted that he could try to get the passport scheme into law without a vote in the Commons. 

He said: ‘First we need to work out what exactly the proposal might be, but certainly if there is something to put to Parliament I am certain we will do that.’ 

Former Tory chief whip Mark Harper (left) – who now chairs the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs – warned the scheme would create a ‘two-tier Britain’ and said it was vital that MPs had the final say. Former minister Steve Baker (right) described the plan as ‘authoritarian and illogical’

But former Tory chief whip Mark Harper – who now chairs the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs – warned the scheme would create a ‘two-tier Britain’ and said it was vital that the Commons has the final say.

He said: ‘Trying to introduce these domestic vaccine passports by the back door by linking them to removing social distancing rules just won’t be acceptable.

‘It is crucial MPs are allowed a vote on this. 

‘Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it, Covid Status Certification will lead to a two-tier Britain and these issues need debating thoroughly and carefully before we allow them to affect the lives of our constituents.’   

Former minister Steve Baker described the plans as ‘authoritarian and illogical’. 

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, had earlier branded the proposals ‘intrusive, costly and unnecessary’. 

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