Labour Will ‘Absolutely’ Vote Against Vaccine Passports, Pledges Mahmood

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 08: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attends a press conference at Stormont on July 8, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Starmer is on a two-day visit where he is expected to meet with leaders of Northern Irelands political parties, senior police officers, Troubles victims and …
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Labour will “absolutely” vote against demanding vaccination for entry to aspects of public life, a senior party member has pledged.

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from the end of September, Britons would need proof of vaccination to enter large social venues likes nightclubs, dozens of Tory MPs and the Liberal Democrats voiced their opposition. However, with the Conservatives holding a strong 83 seat working majority in the House of Commons, the power to stop the introduction of vaccine passports could rest in the hands of the official Opposition, the Labour Party and its leader Keir Starmer.

Three days after the announcement was made, Labour said that it would not back using vaccination as condition of entry for venues and or to access services. However, they said in comments reported by The Mirror that the leadership will be looking at the government’s proposals, suggesting that it might back a coronavirus passport that permitted proof of a negative test result rather than vaccination alone. Labour is also pushing for mandatory and immediate testing for venues like nightclubs.

The spokesman said: “We need to see the detail of what the Government puts forward regarding vaccine passports.

“We oppose the use of Covid vaccination status for everyday access to venues and services. It’s costly, open to fraud and is impractical.

“Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus. Testing for access to venues would be more efficient, and would give people and businesses more certainty.”

Labour’s delay in coming to a decision was criticised by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael, who said: “It took him long enough but I am glad that Keir Starmer has come out against vaccine passports.

“We need a united front against these illiberal and unworkable proposals and a national campaign through the summer to convince the government to change course.”

On Thursday, members of the media sought clarity from Labour that it would stick by its promise. talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer asked Labour’s Khalid Mahmood to confirm whether Labour will vote against vaccine passports for accessing events, to which the MP responded: “Yes, absolutely. That is a clear position. It’s not changing today or tomorrow.”

“I can guarantee you, he [Sir Keir] will absolutely stick to his position. It’s a position based on principle,” he later reiterated.

While a senior government source told The Times that it was unlikely the measures would go for a vote in parliament, the newspaper suggests that if it were, with the support of Labour and the some 40 Tory rebels, the government could be defeated.

Other reports suggest that Johnson’s threat was not sincere, with a source telling The Times that the prime minister had told the influential backbench 1922 Committee the statement was designed to “show the young it is in their interests to get vaccinated”.

Commenting on reports that Johnson was merely making the serious threats to encourage young people to get vaccinated, Silkie Carlo, the director of the civil liberties and privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch, told talkRADIO on Thursday morning: “That just shows how far down the road we are — the idea that it’s appropriate to institute national health IDs, internal passports, checkpoints across society, to coerce people into having a medical intervention… It’s so irrational and disproportionate.

“I think that it will cause a great backlash. It’s incredibly illiberal. It’s discriminatory. It’s going to divide people. It goes against the very British sensibility about carrying papers, going through checkpoints, and divulging personal information.”

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