Tory Rebels to Boycott Party Conference If Vaccine Passports Demanded for Entry

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Tory lockdown sceptics are threatening to boycott October’s Conservative Party Conference if vaccination passports become a legal requirement for entry under government guidelines.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the shock announcement that proof of double vaccination would be the condition of entry to nightclubs — a British first for domestic vaccine passports — from late September, with Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi saying on Thursday that the government could also “mandate the double vaccination requirement for… crowded unstructured indoor settings, large unstructured outdoor settings and, of course, the very large events such as business, music hall, and spectator sports events”.

With the party conference taking place in October in Manchester, the NHS Covid Pass may be a requirement for entrants if the venues are considered crowded indoor or business events, as Zahawi suggested.

The Telegraph reported on Thursday that several Conservatives — including Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee — are already stating they will not be attending the conference, in person or online, if vaccine passports are a condition of entry.

Deputy Chairman of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group (CRG) Steve Baker said that with a “heavy heart” he would not be attending if vaccine passports were mandatory for attendance. Chris Green accused the Tory government of introducing “ID cards”.

“I would love to go to the party conference because it is in Manchester, down the road from my constituency and a great chance to champion levelling up, but I will not be attending in person or online,” Mr Green said.

Some MPs who are vaccinated objected to the restrictions, on principle, if the event excludes others, including Mark Jenkinson, who said: “I’m booked for Conservative Party Conference. I’m double jabbed. I won’t be going to conference if we’re excluding people on the basis of their vaccination status.”

Veteran Brexiteer Peter Bone said: “I can confirm that I won’t be attending the party conference if we have to have a vaccine passport to attend.”

Another told The Guardian that they “will not be going to any venue that requires this kind of thing, including my own party’s conference”.

While ministers have not stated whether “political gatherings” would be included within the measures, a party spokesman only indicated that “the party will be following government guidance.”

The potential boycott of Conservative Party Conference comes as at least 42 Tory MPs backed Big Brother Watch’s declaration against vaccine passports, with around 40 saying they would vote against the government if the Johnson administration attempted to go ahead with the plans.

However, sources from the government speaking to the media have claimed Johnson may not go through with the plans and that the threats were rather an attempt to frighten younger people into getting vaccinated.

Describing the cynical, infantilising move, a Cabinet minister told The Telegraph:  “If we got to 80 per cent [of young people vaccinated], there is no need to do it. Young people are keen, but you need to get their backside into the queue.”

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