Angela Rayner on concerns over vaccine passport ‘bureaucracy’
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Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced vaccine passports will be required by law in England for the first time in a bid to increase the Covid vaccination uptake among the younger generation. Mr Johnson said everyone wishing to attend a nightclub in the country from the end of September will be required to show proof of having received two vaccine jabs. He warned “other venues where large crowds gather” could also be made to adopt the checks, possibly paving the way for the plan to come into force at music concerts, sports events and theatre shows.
But the Prime Minister faces a major showdown in the House of Commons over the move when Parliament welcomes back ministers in September following the summer recess.
Lockdown-sceptic Conservative Party MPs, liberal Labour ministers and Liberal Democrat MPs are likely to oppose vaccine passports in crunch Parliament votes over fears it could pave the way for ID cards.
Now Alistair Carmichael, Home Affairs spokesperson for the Lib Dems, has launched a furious attack against the move from Mr Johnson, warning of the backlash he could feel if the population are forced to hand over their sensitive information.
He told Express.co.uk: “This is another level of control and intrusion into our lives by the state where there is no justification for it.
“I’m a liberal, believe in the freedom of the individual and distrust Governments. I don’t believe in handing not just sensitive, but medical information to the Government or any nightclub owner.
“Once you have an ID card for your vaccine status, it’s only a matter of time before they want you to carry it for something else.
“Before you know it, you have a full-blown ID card scheme with a register underpinning it, and a database of when and where it is used where the Government can track you anywhere, at any time.
“That is not the sort of country I want to live in.”
Mr Carmichael warned of the dangers of important data being lost or misplaced in the event of vaccine passports being launched and that the Government is “opening itself up to a new scandal”.
He said: “Vaccine passports are divisive, inevitably going to be expensive, it risks our data being lost because Governments in this country don’t have a good record of holding onto data.
“This is just another easy fix for the Tory Government.
The Lib Dem MP added: “The Government is opening itself up to a new scandal with vaccine passports.
The Government is opening itself up for a new scandal. The potential for abuse, data loss and invasion of people’s privacy is phenomenal.
“If we are going to change the way we live to this extent, then at the very least, we should have a full and proper national debate on it.
“At the moment there are liberals like myself, and a handful of Tory and Labour backbenchers who are strongly opposing this, but the Government is flying under the radar as much as it can.”
Last week, Labour spoke out against the use of Covid vaccine passports, signalling the strong opposition Mr Johnson is facing against the proposals.
A spokesman for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We oppose the use of Covid vaccination status for everyday access to venues and services.
“Testing for access to venues would be more efficient, and would give people and businesses more certainty”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner described the plans for vaccine passports as “unworkable” and warned they risk adding to the burden on already stretched firms.
She said: “We think it is unworkable actually and we should be encouraging people to get the vaccine as soon as they possibly can, and also encouraging people to take regular tests as well. Because that is how we keep control of the virus.
“Of course, even with the two vaccines you can still get Covid, so therefore testing has got to be an important part of that scheme.”
Ms Rayner added: “Many businesses – the practicalities, whether it is in hospitality or in other organisations – they have absolutely struggled during this pandemic and there is absolutely no way that these businesses can go around vetting and checking these vaccine passports are legit.”
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