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Labour Threatens To Oppose The Government’s “Unconvincing” Vaccine Passport Plans

Jonathan Ashworth said Labour was "unconvinced" by the prime minister's plans (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour has criticised the government’s plans for a domestic vaccine passport as “discriminatory” and have warned they may vote against the measures in future.

Boris Johnson confirmed last night that a system of “Covid-Status Certification” would be trialled later this month, and dismissed out that the digital document would be required for people to go to the pub or hairdresser as lockdown is eased in coming months. 

But official documents released yesterday stated the system “could play a role in reducing social distancing requirements” in other settings such as hospitality, and said the government would not seek to ban businesses from implementing their own covid stuats certification systems. 

“We're very sceptical and we're keen to hear more details with ministers as to how they would expect this to work,” shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC. 

Labour has indicated the party would vote against future legislation on the proposal. “Last night when Boris Johnson was asked he couldn't explain his own policy. So at the moment we are unconvinced," Ashworth added. 

“But it’s up to ministers to convince the country that they have a plan in place, and what they are going to do, and when we see the details of their legislation, we will study it carefully.”

It comes a week after Keir Starmer said in an interview with The Telegraph that he thought “British sense” would be against domestic vaccine passports, though the Labour leader stopped short at that time of openly opposing the idea.

But the party is now hardening its position after the government ruled out in preventing individual businesses from requiring proof of Covid status from customers, arguing in documents released last night that 

In documents released last night, the government argued that it “would in most cases be an unjustified intrusion on how businesses choose to make their premises safe”.

Labour could be joined in opposition to potential legislation by 41 Tory MPs, all of whom have signed a letter branding the proposals “divisive and discriminatory”.

Speaking on Tuesday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed MPs would get a vote on whether vaccine passports were introduced, and refused to rule out whether the system could be included in the final stages of lockdown lifting. 

“We're going to run the pilots of the FA Cup Final, the semi final, where initially we will look at testing technology to see whether we can have mass events, but also look at vaccines and immunity as well, as options,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It would be irresponsible not to examine all of these things. Because if another country finds a way of using these things in a really appropriate way you'd be saying to me, why didn't we look at this.”

Asked whether MPs could expect to vote on it, he added: “As the prime minister said, if we if and when we come to a view. 

“And it's only responsible to leave no stone unturned, as we did with vaccines, to do the same both with testing and of course with technology and certification.”

“If we come to a decision on this, of course, it'll come to Parliament.”

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Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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