Johnson will present an update on Monday on planning for Covid-19 certificates – which would record vaccinations, tests and immunity using an NHS app – but he is under increasing pressure to drop the idea.
A total of 41 Tory MPs joined a multi-party coalition of more than 70 MPs opposed to the plan, linking up with former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey.
Conservatives include former ministers Steve Baker and Iain Duncan Smith and, along with opposition MPs, could potentially threaten to defeat Johnson’s government in a vote.
“The certification of Covid status would be a source of division and discrimination,” argued Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative backbench committee in 1922.
“With high levels of immunization protecting vulnerable people and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not put permanent restrictions in place.”
Labor leader Keir Starmer told the Daily Telegraph on Thursday that the use of so-called ‘Covid passports’ to enter pubs, as Johnson suggested last month, was against ‘British instinct’.
Although Starmer said he would study the proposals and did not promise to vote against the idea in the Commons, he added, “My instinct is that as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of As hospitalizations and deaths go down, there will be a British feeling that we don’t really want to go this route.
Michael Gove, Minister of the Cabinet Office, is leading the examination of the possibility of using the Covid-19 certificates at the national level, in particular to access places of entertainment and hospitality such as nightclubs, which have proven to be difficult to reopen.
Johnson stressed that the certificates would not only include vaccinations, but also test results and proof that a person was immune after previously contracting Covid-19.
Johnson said on Thursday he wanted to give “maximum confidence to UK businesses and customers”. He also said vaccine passports would play a role in reopening overseas travel. “There will certainly be a world in which international travel uses vaccine passports,” he said.
Gove’s allies said “no decision has been made.” The policy review is due to end on June 21, the earliest date the government has said most remaining lockdown restrictions will be removed.
The European Commission has announced its intention to introduce Digital green certificates. The documentation, in paper or digital form, will allow people who have recovered from coronavirus, had a vaccine or tested negative, to travel freely throughout Europe.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that coronavirus infections have fallen across much of the UK.
In England, an estimated 148,100 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ended March 27, or about one in 370 people, compared to one in 340 the previous week.
Infections have also fallen in Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland, however, cases appear to have increased from one in 320 to one in 220.