Up To 100 Tory MPs Could Rebel Against Covid Certification With Commons Vote
MPs believe as many as 100 Conservative backbenchers will rebel on Tuesday’s Commons vote to implement Covid certification checks at large events and nightclubs.
So far more than 70 Tory backbenchers have publicly stated their opposition to the plan, which government has introduced in response to rising Covid case numbers and the threat of the Omicron variant.
But MPs have told PoliticsHome those privately saying they plan to rebel could raise the figure to 100.
On Sunday, the UK recorded its highest daily rise in infections caused by Omicron, with a further 1,239 cases of the new variant confirmed.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said there are "about" 10 people currently hospitalised with the new form of the virus, while official NHS figures show there are have been 3,137 infections from Omicron confirmed in the UK. The government has confirmed the variant has reached the stage of exponential growth.
At least one patient in the UK is now confirmed to have died after testing positive for the variant.
Conservatives opposing the Covid certification, which would require people attending large events to demonstrate proof of Covid antibodies, say it would create an unnecessary imposition on civil liberties.
Under the government's proposed plan, unvaccinated individuals would still be able to attend large events and nightclubs if they show evidence of a negative lateral flow test.
Defiant Tories say they fundamentally oppose having to prove your health status in any capacity. They believe there would be a "snowball effect" and that certification would soon be required in more public settings than currently proposed.
Multiple Tory MPs considering rebelling told PoliticsHome said an escalation of the proposals was their primary concern.
They believe we should "learn to live" with the virus and oppose regular rule-changes in response to the evolving Covid crisis.
Plan B Covid regulations include a recommendation to work from home, which comes into effect today, and increased mask wearing and Covid certification which will come into effect on Wednesday, subject to Tuesday's Commons vote.
“Government’s guidance for working from home doesn’t make sense,” Tory backbencher Robbie Moore tweeted.
“Covid passes will place [a] burden on local people and businesses,” he added.
“I will be voting against these plans. We need to learn to live with virus and cannot continue stop/start with restrictions.”
Conservative MP Siobhan Baillie raised similar concerns, tweeting: “Masks and working from home may seem easy for some but there is a personal, financial and health cost attached for so many people.
“Vaccine passports will also create more problems than they solve.
“I see no evidence that they have stopped the spread of Covid in other places either.”
There has also been opposition to the new measures among MPs' staff.
A Whatsapp group containing ten parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs) has been formed to discuss tomorrow’s vote and potential rebellions.
PoliticsHome understands that among those in the group a small number are just about certain they will resign from their roles tomorrow ahead of the vote.
“I can’t make this sit right with me no matter how hard I try,” a PPS mulling resignation told PoliticsHome.
Despite the sizeable number of MPs planning to rebel, Tuesday’s vote is likely to pass.
Labour has confirmed it will support the government and while the Liberal Democrats oppose the new measures, their small number in the Commons won’t make a difference to the final outcome.
Rebel backbenchers and PPSs opposing the plans told PoliticsHome that Conservative whips have not bothered to try and change their mind on the vote so far.
However, one source said that Sajid Javid’s team and the health secretary personally have been lobbying MPs to get on board with the government’s plan.
News of growing numbers of Covid rebels comes as the Prime Minister has pledged to offer booster jabs to all over 18-year-olds by the new year.
In a statement broadcast to the nation on Sunday evening, Johnson warned that the UK faces a "tidal wave" of Omicron and that “we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe”.
A new “national mission”, labelled Omicron Emergency Boost, has been launched to curb the spread of the highly transmissible variant and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
From tomorrow every adult in England aged 18 and over who received a second vaccine at least three months ago can attend a walk-in vaccination centre.
From Wednesday the NHS website will open up to those aged 18 and above for bookings.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe