Prime Minister faces fresh backlash against plans to introduce national vaccine passports for entry into large-scale events, with calls for Parliament to be recalled from its summer recess to allow debate on the matter .
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has called for a return if the government is “serious” about its plans.
His comments mean that multi-party support is emerging for the House of Commons to return before September. Last week, the Liberal Democrats said a change to the NHS app – allowing users to prove they had been hit twice for access to domestic settings, as well as for international travel – warranted a reminder.
Bridgen, a member of the Covid Recovery Group, skeptical of containment, is one of 43 Conservative MPs to have signed a statement opposing vaccine passports.
Speaking to LBC on Sunday, the MP for North West Leicestershire said: ‘I think if the government is serious about the threat of introducing national vaccine passports then of course Parliament should be recalled.
“This is a very serious attack on the freedoms of individuals. It is fundamentally unprecedented in this country, and a number of my colleagues and I would oppose it.
Bridgen predicted that a vote in the House of Commons on the issue would result in an “embarrassing defeat” for the government.
He said: “I think this is a very brutal instrument, to threaten people with national Covid passports. Personally, I don’t think it would go through the House of Commons anyway and that is why the government has moved on to these “carrot” incentives for young people. “
Bridgen is among a growing number of conservatives in the “libertarian” wing of the party who have threatened to boycott this year’s party conference if attendees were required to show proof of vaccination. Steve Baker, vice chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, Peter Bone and Mark Jenkinson have said they will not attend the conference, which is being held in Manchester from October 3-6.
The government has been accused of attempting to introduce vaccine passports ‘on the sly’ this week after updating the NHS app to include a national Covid passport section.
The great Tory Sir David Lidington, who was de facto Deputy Prime Minister under Theresa May, has also raised concerns. The former justice secretary said the introduction of national passports for vaccines would set a “dangerous precedent”.
Lidington told Times Radio: “I am much more careful when the government establishes a law that people should only have access to particular civil society events if they have some kind of certificate of approval from the government.
“I think that’s a pretty dangerous precedent and it also raises all kinds of very difficult practical issues regarding implementation. I mean, who is responsible for carrying out these checks? What penalties do they have against an individual who resists a check?
He added that he believed there were “better ways to persuade young people to get vaccinated” than to deny them entry to nightclubs.
Government data released on Sunday showed another 65 people in the UK had died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, while 24,470 more laboratory-confirmed Covid cases were also recorded.
The latest figures show that a total of 85,196,986 vaccine doses have been administered in the UK, with 46,851,145 people receiving a first dose (88.6% of adults) and 38,345,841 people receiving both (72 , 5% of adults).
Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford, said there was a “strong argument” for vaccine passports by allowing fully vaccinated people to return to socialization.
Wilkinson told LBC Radio: “I think the idea of using vaccine passports as a stick to beat people up and punish them if they haven’t been vaccinated is ethically flawed.
“But there is a strong case for vaccine passports, which is the reverse, namely that those who are vaccinated, or potentially have other evidence that they are at low risk of transmitting the virus, should not being unduly prevented from enjoying the normal things of daily life.
“They are no longer at serious risk of transmitting the virus, so ethically they should be able to travel, go to work, go out and socialize in a more normal way. “