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Tory MPs say they’ll defy Boris Johnson and vote against illiberal vaccine passports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hasn’t just angered large swathes of the British public with his planned vaccine passports: he’s also angered his own MPs and legislators on the other side of the House, many of whom have now pledged to vote against such a measure.
Vaccine apartheid: Hours after Britain’s nightlife switched its lights on Monday, Johnson fired salvoes at the frustrated public with an announcement that proof of vaccination will soon be needed to enter these and many other establishments, establishments, with proof of a negative test no longer sufficient for entry.
Protesters had already taken to the streets of London to demand a total end to coronavirus-related policies. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 240,000 people had signed a petition demanding the government ’take firm action to prevent vaccination passports and discriminatory ‘no jab, no job’ policies.
Opposition to the so-called vaccine passports is not just brewing in the streets, but in Westminster too. Seventy-nine Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green MPs have signed a declaration against vaccination certificates organized by Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties organisation.
The declaration has also been signed by 14 peers and nine NGOs, and was drawn up as part of a wider campaign against vaccine passports supported by Christian groups and the hospitality industry.
A number of Conservative MPs have threatened to boycott the party’s conference in October if vaccine passports are required, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. One MP told the paper he had no doubt vaccine passports would be required at the conference, and as a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if a number of Conservative MPs and activists refuse to attend.
Despite Big Brother Watch’s declaration attracting the support of 37 Labour MPs, as well as former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, how the party eventually votes on vaccine passports will depend largely on the decision of party leader Keir Starmer. While Starmer once opposed vaccine passports and called them un-British, he has not yet signalled whether he will support or oppose Johnson’s latest proposal.
Although 42 Tory MPs have signed the declaration, Labour’s support could still see vaccine passports introduced. ’There is nothing I can do or Conservatives can do if Labour continue to decline to oppose the government’s illiberal policies,’ Conservative MP Steve Baker told the Guardian. ’This is really now all about Starmer, who described this policy as ‘un-British.’
However, should Labour oppose the measure, and should a few more Conservatives join their dissenting colleagues, Johnson may not have enough support when the House of Commons returns from recess to vote on the proposal in September.
‘I don’t think the government would have the support of enough Conservatives in a parliamentary vote if the opposition decided to oppose the measures as well,’ Tory MP Steve Bone told the Financial Times on Wednesday.
Baker expects opposition within his party to grow too. ’Some MPs were told specifically that mandatory vaccination and Covid certification was not going to happen and, on that basis, they supported the government in past votes,’ he said. ‘Of course, some backbenchers are now furious that the government has now done the former and said they will do the latter.’
Johnson has refused to rule out extending the vaccine requirement to pubs and public transport as well as nightclubs, with a Downing Street spokesman saying that the government is ’going to use the coming weeks to look at the evidence, particularly both in the UK and globally before making a specific decision.’
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