Blair Tells Boris Not to Ditch Tier System After Lockdown

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Tony Blair attends the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has told Boris Johnson not to drop tiered coronavirus measures after the end of lockdown, publishing a report calling for the country to revert to a five-level traffic light system.

The UK has spent much of the past 11 months either in some form of a lockdown or tiered restrictions since the outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus. With the recent success of the UK’s vaccine rollout and Prime Minister Johnson’s earlier suggestion that Britons have seen the last of tiers, Mr Johnson is anticipated to outline on Monday his strategy for taking England out of lockdown, even if slowly, together.

Former Prime Minister Blair has published his own “roadmap” through his Tony Blair Institute (TBI) with a traffic light system — from red, amber, to green — that associates different markers for infection levels to what parts of society should be reopened, according to the report seen by The Telegraph.

The TBI plans allow for “both regional and local variation in restrictions”, claiming that “the Government should not ditch its locally-varied approach to restrictions. A rigid national approach alone will either impose unnecessary economic and social costs to contain the virus or fail to contain it at all.”

It also claims that even once the whole adult population is vaccinated and immune, “it is far from clear that it will be possible to remove all restrictions without having in place a comprehensive containment infrastructure, likely involving digital health passes, better incentives for self-isolation and widespread availability of rapid testing”.

Mr Blair has been a vocal advocate of “digital health passes”, calling for “health passports” in December, asserting: “I know all the objections, but it will happen.”

The TBI report also advises against giving Britons dates by which they can expect to have their rights restored to them, and rejects calls from a group of lockdown sceptic MPs, the Covid Recovery Group (CRG), to lift lockdown at the end of April when the most vulnerable people will have been vaccinated.

CRG Chairman Mark Harper told the BBC’s Question Time: “That’s two and a half months away, we are only one and a half months into this lockdown. So I don’t think in another two and a half months’ time that can really be described as a massive rush.

“I think it’s actually taking it carefully and cautiously, in line with the rollout of the vaccination… Our view is once you’ve vaccinated those people and reduced hospitalisations by 80 per cent then you can remove the domestic restrictions.”

Despite a legacy of controversies surrounding the former Labour prime minister — including his involvement in the invasion of Iraq, his open borders immigration policy during his premiership, and his recent attempts to foil Brexit — Blair’s Institute reportedly has “strong links to the upper echelons of Whitehall and the Palace of Westminister”, according to The Telegraph, which speculates that it is “probable” that Johnson’s news proposals could share similarities to those recommended by Blair.

Not only has Blair pushed for immunity certificates, but is pressuring the Conservative government to take a lead in developing a “Global Covid Travel Pass” at June’s G7 summit, claiming the UK has only two choices: “Lead or be led.”


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