Government faces opposition to certification of Covid status from all political backgrounds
Credit: CROFT MALCOLM CROFT / PA Archive / PA Images
The government is being urged to make big changes to its vaccination passport plans or face defeat in the Commons by opposition parties.
Labor and the Scottish National Party have both confirmed that they cannot support the introduction of ‘certification of Covid status’ in its current form, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pointed out last week. With at least 40 of their own Tory MPs vowing to block legislation implementing such a system, it means the government could struggle to gain parliamentary approval.
Last week, the government confirmed that a test of the certification system at nine events across the country will begin later this month after a Whitehall review of their use concluded they could “allow certain freedoms to be restored in a more secure manner ”.
The prime minister said people will either have to show that they have been vaccinated, that they have had a recent negative test or that they have “natural immunity” to attend sports matches, music festivals, concerts. theaters, nightclubs and other mass events.
Citizens will be able to demonstrate their certification status via the existing NHS Covid-19 application, with a paper alternative to be offered to those who do not use the technology.
Talk to PublicTechnology A month ago Wolfgang Emmerich, UK boss of Zühlke – the company largely responsible for creating the app – said his company expects the feature to be added to the app in due course. , although no plan has been confirmed at this point.
Now that such a system is about to become a reality, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the existing proposals are “a complete mess”, while the SNP has said they are “mired in confusion and the contradiction”.
Party leader in Westminster Ian Blackford tweeted last week: ‘Based on the information available, SNP MPs are reportedly not supporting the Tories’ plans due to serious ethical concerns.
Starmer also doubled down on his opposition to the government’s proposed system. “We do not support the government’s plans in their current form – it is that simple,” he told reporters last week. “In fact, the government’s plan seems to change almost daily, just a few weeks ago the Prime Minister said he was thinking about vaccine passports to go to the pub. Now he says no. One day he talks tests, then certificates, it’s a mess.
He added: “There is no real plan around this, and what I fear is that this is another example of the government with a plan that does not work, costing taxpayers a lot of money. , while I think the focus should be on getting as many people vaccinated as possible – that’s the light in the tunnel. ”
Shadow Secretary of Defense John Healey said the use of vaccine passports nationwide was “likely discriminatory”.
He said he was happy to see trials using some form of certification for mass events take place, but told Times Radio: “From what we’ve seen so far, it’s very difficult. to see Labor being able to take charge of the national vaccine passports for general use. .
“Because if we’re going to ask or require people to produce them for everyday things, we all want to go back to doing like pubs or shops, then that’s likely to divide, that’s likely to be. discriminatory.”
Blackford had initially hinted that the 44 SNP MPs might support some form of certification, particularly if it was based on testing as well as vaccination, but like Labor, has since refused to back the plans in their current form.
“The UK government has not released any firm proposal on covid certificates, and the Conservatives’ position has become mired in confusion and contradiction,” he tweeted. “Based on the information available, SNP MPs are reportedly not supporting the Conservatives’ plans due to serious ethical concerns.
The Liberal Democrats have already indicated they will not support the plans in any form, its leader Sir Ed Davey saying they would be “illiberal, impractical and utterly ineffective in protecting people from Covid.”
The government is expected to put its final proposals to a vote in the House of Commons before a certification system is introduced this summer.
Without the support of opposition parties, the focus will be on a likely rebellion of backbench Tory MPs, led by the lockdown skeptics’ Covid Recovery Group.
Its vice president Steve Baker said: “Certification of Covid status – the requirement to have a household vaccine passport or rather to pass two tests per week to participate in society – would be discriminatory, would lead to a two speeds and would be entirely incompatible with freedom.
With a working majority of 85, if the 41 Tory MPs who joined a campaign against the plans vote against them, that might be enough to see them stranded.
Sources in Downing Street have not ruled out suggestions that legislation for any national certification could be paired with international vaccine passports to reactivate overseas travel, which is much less controversial and could quell potential rebellion.