FORTY rebel Tories including six ex-Cabinet ministers join forces with opposition MPs in bid to block ‘divisive and discriminatory’ vaccine passports
- Unlikely alliance condemned vaccine passports as ‘divisive and discriminatory’
- Members of coalition were organised by the pressure group Big Brother Watch
- Signed a pledge to oppose the idea if it is brought forward by ministers
- Signatories include Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey
Opposition to vaccine passports picked up last night as 72 MPs from different parties vowed to block them.
An unlikely alliance of Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and former Tory Cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir John Redwood and Esther McVey condemned them as ‘divisive and discriminatory’.
Members of the coalition, organised by the pressure group Big Brother Watch, have signed a pledge to oppose the idea if it is brought forward by ministers.
Their statement says: ‘We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs.’
The Covid-19 vaccination pilot scheme will begin after work on an updated NHS Covid app is completed, that will show a person’s coronavirus vaccination status. Pictured: A person holds up a smart phone with a mock-up of a vaccine passport
Ominously for the Government, the signatories include 40 Conservative MPs – enough to wipe out Boris Johnson’s Commons majority.
They include six former Cabinet ministers and Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs.
Boris Johnson, who will publish the interim findings of a review of the issue next week, said yesterday that some form of ‘vaccine certification’ was likely to be essential for foreign travel and ‘useful’ domestically. But Sir Graham said the vaccine rollout would make this unnecessary.
‘Covid status certification would be divisive and discriminatory,’ he said. ‘With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place.’
Trials of vaccine passports could begin as soon as next month, the Mail can reveal. Pictured: A covid-safe pub lunch
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said easing lockdown should restore freedoms, not create ‘creeping authoritarianism’, adding: ‘We should start getting our freedoms back. Vaccine passports – essentially Covid ID cards – take us in the other direction.’
Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s former shadow attorney general and a former director of the civil rights group Liberty, said domestic use of vaccine passports was unacceptable.
She added: ‘International travel is a luxury, but participating in your own community is a fundamental right.
Former RAF Flight Sergeant Louis Godwin receives his second injection of the coronavirus vaccine at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, March 27
‘So internal Covid passports are an authoritarian step too far. We don’t defeat the virus with discrimination and oppression but with education, vaccination and mutual support.’
The size of the cross-party rebellion will alarm ministers, who believe they will require new legislation to introduce vaccine certification schemes.
If Tory opposition remains firm, ministers would be forced to rely on the support of Sir Keir Starmer.
The Labour leader said he would examine the details of any plans before deciding whether to oppose them.
He added: ‘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.’