Johnson Faces Political Fight Over U.K. Covid Passports Plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on course for a battle with members of Parliament over plans to introduce vaccine passports as part of opening up services after lockdown.

So-called Covid-status certificates -- based on proof of a vaccine, a negative test or immunity for those who have recovered from the virus -- could eventually eliminate the need for testing of audiences at live events and passengers heading on international trips, under government plans.

But Conservative members of Parliament are unhappy, and the opposition Labour Party has hinted it could vote against the policy. If all those MPs who have said they have concerns were to vote against the proposals in the House of Commons, the government would risk potential defeat on the issue.

Former Tory minister Mark Harper said Covid certificates would create a “two-tier Britain” and demanded MPs be given a vote on the plan. “Trying to introduce these domestic vaccine passports by the back door by linking them to removing social-distancing rules just won’t be acceptable,” he said.

Health Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News on Tuesday vaccine passports would not be needed to enter pubs and restaurants when customers are allowed inside again next month. The government backs Covid certificates in principle and they will be important for international travel, he said.

Labour’s health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth called for more clarity.

“I do think it is discriminatory,” he told Sky News. “Last night, Boris Johnson couldn’t explain his own policy. We’ve now got the vaccine minister saying it’s not for shops and pubs. The government just need to clear this up.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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