Labour Leader Brands Govt Vaccine Passport Plans a ‘Complete Mess’

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a visit to AstraZeneca in Macclesfield, Chesire, northwest England on April 6, 2021, to learn more about their $500 million (£360 million) investment into the Macclesfield site. (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DAVE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Labour leader Keir Starmer has branded the Conservative government’s current discussion on immunity passports a “complete mess”, amidst reports the main opposition party may break from the government and vote against the measures.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is undertaking a review on vaccine passports, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson refers to as “covid status certification”, with the findings expected in June. Such documentation may be held on a mobile phone app, recording natural immunity after recovering from the Chinese virus, vaccination, or a recent negative lateral flow test.

Gove has reportedly told MPs that the government would allow a vote on the measure, with Johnson saying on Monday that parliament would “certainly” be consulted if vaccine passport plans advance. Some 73 MPs, including 41 from the Conservative Party, have said they will vote against it. But it would take a higher proportion of Tory rebels and Labour voting against the measures to defeat the government.

Labour leader Keir Starmer appears to be shifting his stance on vaccine passports. Last week, he only said that they were against “British instinct” but said on Wednesday, in comments reported by the Evening Standard: “We do not support the Government’s plans in their current form, it’s as simple as that.”

He continued: “In fact the Government’s plans seem to be changing on an almost-daily basis. Only a few weeks ago the Prime Minister was saying he was thinking of vaccine passports to go to the pub – now he says isn’t. One day he’s talking about tests – then it’s certificates. It’s a complete mess.”

Not solely about accessing pubs per se, the issue of ‘passports for pints’ has become a British benchmark of how far the government’s coronavirus bureaucracy will interfere with post-lockdown life and whether Britons will be barred from common cultural and commercial spaces if they are undocumented.

In February, Johnson said that did not think Britain would need vaccine passports to go to the pub, while in March said that it would be up to landlords whether to demand proof of immunity.

Johnson u-turned again amidst the threat of party rebellion, saying this week that, for now, citizens would be vaccine passports to enter hospitality businesses, such as bars, pubs, and restaurants.

The same day he made the announcement, a government briefing document confirmed it was still considering passports for pints in the future, and that “COVID-status certification is likely to become a feature of our lives until the threat from the pandemic recedes”.

Keir Starmer’s remarks come amidst reports that Labour MPs have been told the party will vote against vaccine passports, though it may still back a form of certification dependent solely on testing rather than vaccination.

The Liberal Democrats have been consistent in recent weeks in their opposition to vaccine passports, with party leader Ed Davey telling the Press Association on Wednesday: “Vaccine passports are actually Covid identity cards by the back door. They take away people’s freedoms. We think they’re unworkable and we think they’re unnecessary and illiberal.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.