“What a load of rubbish!” a lockdown-sceptic Tory MP replied when Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the introduction of domestic vaccines passports for nightclubs and claimed that it was not discriminatory.
Defending domestic vaccine passports set to come into use for entering nightclubs by the end of September, Mr Zahawi lamented that such measures — which he admits “curtail people’s freedoms” — were “not in his [Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s] DNA”.
Zahawi said: “It pains me to have to stand at the Despatch Box and implement something that goes against the DNA of this Minister and his Prime Minister, but we are living through difficult and unprecedented times.”
“[It] is difficult for me to do, and goes against everything I believe in, but nevertheless is the right thing to do,” he said.
— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) September 8, 2021
The vaccine minister also claimed that the measures were not discriminatory and that the government had “conducted a full equality impact assessment and consulted widely to understand the potential equality impact of covid status certification. We spoke to ethicists and representatives of disabilities, race and faith groups. The system allows both digital and non-digital proofs, to help to ensure access for all.”
“What a load of rubbish,” Conservative MP William Wragg responded, continuing: “I do not believe that my hon. Friend believes a word he just uttered, because I remember him stating very persuasively my position, which we shared at the time, that this measure would be discriminatory.
“Yet he is sent to the Despatch Box to defend the indefensible. We in this House seem prepared to have a needless fight over this issue. It is completely unnecessary. We all agree that people should be encouraged to have the vaccine, and I again encourage everybody to do so, but to go down this route, which is overtly discriminatory, will be utterly damaging to the fabric of society.”
Mr Zahawi had said in February that “vaccines are not mandated in this country” and that to do so “would be discriminatory”.
12 to 15 Year Olds Can Defy Parents to Be Vaccinated, Says Health Sec Days After Vax Minister Denials https://t.co/EvZjXtU5w8
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 8, 2021
The month before, he had assured House of Lords peer, Claire Fox, Baroness Fox of Buckley, that there were “no plans to introduce vaccine passports” and “no one has been given or will be required to have a vaccine passport.”
When Baroness Fox asked, “Can we hold you to this?” Zahawi replied: “Yes you can Claire.”
In the months following the vaccine rollout and talk of immunity certification for entry to public spaces, church leaders, Tory rebels and Liberal Democrats, and civil liberty campaigners have warned against introducing the measures, branding them discriminatory.
In April, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the UK’s equalities watchdog, warned that the introduction of domestic vaccine passports could create a “two-tier society”, while the CEO of an American data privacy firm told Breitbart London the month before that vaccine passports could lead to algorithmic discrimination.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 7, 2021