Boris Johnson faces substantial Commons revolt over Covid passport plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Cov

Prime minister Boris Johnson, during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19) - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson faces a substantial Commons revolt over plans to use a vaccine passport scheme in pubs and restaurants.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove is said to have promised MPs a vote on the use of "Covid status certificates", raising the prospect of defeat in the Commons.

The idea would allow people to provide proof of vaccine status, immunity from a recent antibody test or a negative test result using a smartphone app or paper document.

Ministers insist the certificates will never be required in shops or on public transport, but will be for large events such as football matches and music festivals.

An MP told the Telegraph: "Michael [Gove] made a very clear statement on the call with MPs that there would be debates and votes before anything like this came into force."

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More than 41 Tories have expressed concern about the plan in a letter which included the signatures of Iain Duncan Smith and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

This also comes as Labour sources confirm Sir Keir Starmer will declare his opposition to the scheme, having already called the idea "un-British".

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One source told POLITICO: "On the basis of what we’ve seen and discussed with ministers, we oppose the government’s plans for domestic vaccine passports.

"They appear poorly thought through, will put added burdens on business and run the risk of becoming another expensive Whitehall project that gets outsourced to friends of Tory ministers."

They said Labour would instead focus on "getting the vaccine out, fixing self-isolation and contact tracing".

Shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves said Labour had "many reservations" about their use.

"We have an amazing take-up of the vaccine, it is being rolled out incredibly successfully by the NHS - it is not totally clear to me that we need a sledgehammer to crack a nut here," she said.

"So we will see what the government bring forward and their rationale for it - we’ll keep an open mind but at the moment we have many reservations around what the government looks like it might be suggesting."

If Tory rebels, Labour and the rest of the opposition parties oppose, then a vote could turn out to be very tight. The government’s working majority is 87.

This comes as Johnson faces opposition from his own advisers over the removal of social distancing rules by June 21.

Sky News reports SAGE scientists Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance are urging the prime minister to keep social distancing measures in place for another year, something Johnson does not want to do.

"He wants to get life back to normal," a senior government figure told Sky News. "So he’s prepared to go for the certification and do it for livelihoods."

Health minister Edward Argar defended the idea, saying: "I don’t think anyone would wish to do it but I think it is right that it is looked at as: 'Can this help us go a little bit faster and get our country back to normal?'"

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