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Labour opposed to 'discriminatory' and 'confusing' Covid status certificates Labour opposed to 'discriminatory' and 'confusing' Covid status certificates
(2 days later)
Shadow health secretary says ‘unfair’ vaccine document plan has not been clearly explainedShadow health secretary says ‘unfair’ vaccine document plan has not been clearly explained
Labour has warned that Covid status certificates, whereby people would have to prove they have been vaccinated to enter shops, pubs and other indoor settings and mass events, could be “discriminatory”, with Keir Starmer poised to vote against the measures. Labour has warned that Covid status certificates could be “discriminatory”, with Keir Starmer poised to vote against the measures.
The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, accused the government of “creating confusion” by not explaining clearly where the documents may be needed, after Boris Johnson confirmed they were being investigated but would not be introduced earlier than mid-May.The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, accused the government of “creating confusion” by not explaining clearly where the documents may be needed, after Boris Johnson confirmed they were being investigated but would not be introduced earlier than mid-May.
Under the scheme, only people who can prove they have had a coronavirus vaccine, a recent negative test result or have antibodies from an infection in the last six months would be allowed into some settings.
“I’m not going to support a policy that, here in my Leicester constituency, if someone wants to go into Next or H&M, they have to produce a vaccination certificate on their phone, on an app,” Ashworth told BBC Breakfast. “I think that’s discriminatory.”“I’m not going to support a policy that, here in my Leicester constituency, if someone wants to go into Next or H&M, they have to produce a vaccination certificate on their phone, on an app,” Ashworth told BBC Breakfast. “I think that’s discriminatory.”
He added it made sense to ask people to get tested before going to events such as a football game, but warned that forcing everyone to carry an “ID card” proving they had been jabbed was not fair.He added it made sense to ask people to get tested before going to events such as a football game, but warned that forcing everyone to carry an “ID card” proving they had been jabbed was not fair.
Johnson announced on Monday that the NHS was developing Covid status certificates, though said they would not be needed in a shop, pub garden or hairdresser before 17 May. He left open the possibility of them being needed in some indoor settings after that date, saying the government was working out “exactly what the proposal might be”.Johnson announced on Monday that the NHS was developing Covid status certificates, though said they would not be needed in a shop, pub garden or hairdresser before 17 May. He left open the possibility of them being needed in some indoor settings after that date, saying the government was working out “exactly what the proposal might be”.
A government-commissioned review also published on Monday only clarified that some settings, including public transport and essential shops, where the documents “should never be required”.A government-commissioned review also published on Monday only clarified that some settings, including public transport and essential shops, where the documents “should never be required”.
The scheme has still sparked anger among 40 Conservative MPs, who pledged to oppose the certificates and said they were “divisive and discriminatory”.The scheme has still sparked anger among 40 Conservative MPs, who pledged to oppose the certificates and said they were “divisive and discriminatory”.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, confirmed “if we do get to that place, then of course we will go to parliament for a vote”. With anger on the Conservative side potentially wiping out the prime minister’s majority in the Commons, attention has turned to Labour’s position. Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, confirmed “If we do get to that place, then of course we will go to parliament for a vote.” With anger on the Conservative side potentially wiping out the prime minister’s majority in the Commons, attention has turned to Labour’s position.
In an effort to win cross-party support for the idea, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, launched a charm offensive last week, holding calls with Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs to lobby them to support the plan.In an effort to win cross-party support for the idea, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, launched a charm offensive last week, holding calls with Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs to lobby them to support the plan.
Under the scheme, only people who can prove they have had a coronavirus vaccine or a recent negative test result or have antibodies from an infection in the last six months would be allowed into some settings such as theatres and sports stadiums.
After the Liberal Democrats leader, Ed Davey, came out firmly against the idea, saying it would mean “separating society into haves and have-nots”, Starmer came under pressure to say how he would vote.After the Liberal Democrats leader, Ed Davey, came out firmly against the idea, saying it would mean “separating society into haves and have-nots”, Starmer came under pressure to say how he would vote.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last week, he did not commit to voting one way or another: “My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don’t actually want to go down this road.”In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last week, he did not commit to voting one way or another: “My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don’t actually want to go down this road.”
A senior Labour source has since confirmed to the Guardian that Starmer and senior members of the shadow cabinet including the deputy leader, Angela Rayner, “are all minded to vote against” the proposals.A senior Labour source has since confirmed to the Guardian that Starmer and senior members of the shadow cabinet including the deputy leader, Angela Rayner, “are all minded to vote against” the proposals.
They added that they did not think ministers had adequately explained how the scheme would work, what its purpose was and the cost to the taxpayer, significantly increasing the chances that the prime minister could lose a vote in parliament.They added that they did not think ministers had adequately explained how the scheme would work, what its purpose was and the cost to the taxpayer, significantly increasing the chances that the prime minister could lose a vote in parliament.
Mark Harper, a Tory backbencher and chair of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “It is crucial MPs are allowed a vote on this, as Michael Gove promised last week. Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it, Covid status certification will lead to a two-tier Britain, and these issues need debating thoroughly and carefully before we allow them to affect the lives of our constituents.”Mark Harper, a Tory backbencher and chair of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “It is crucial MPs are allowed a vote on this, as Michael Gove promised last week. Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it, Covid status certification will lead to a two-tier Britain, and these issues need debating thoroughly and carefully before we allow them to affect the lives of our constituents.”
Labour officials had been questioning whether Starmer would support Johnson over the plans, which have sparked a fierce backlash from civil liberties campaigners and human rights charities including Liberty, Big Brother Watch and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.Labour officials had been questioning whether Starmer would support Johnson over the plans, which have sparked a fierce backlash from civil liberties campaigners and human rights charities including Liberty, Big Brother Watch and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
A party insider said “it really isn’t clear at all” how the government’s proposed system would work and added that the “reservations are real”, particularly around the digital infrastructure for the certificates given the government’s handling of the development of the test-and-trace app.A party insider said “it really isn’t clear at all” how the government’s proposed system would work and added that the “reservations are real”, particularly around the digital infrastructure for the certificates given the government’s handling of the development of the test-and-trace app.
Another said Starmer’s team was “worried that this issue splits the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] just like it splits the Tory party” and “really angry” that the interview he gave last week had been headlined on his criticism of the certificates. They suggested Labour could still support them, but would “probably not make much of a song and dance about it”.Another said Starmer’s team was “worried that this issue splits the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] just like it splits the Tory party” and “really angry” that the interview he gave last week had been headlined on his criticism of the certificates. They suggested Labour could still support them, but would “probably not make much of a song and dance about it”.