Boris Johnson will today face the biggest rebellion of Tory MPs since he became Prime Minister, with at least 80 backbenchers vowing to not support the government in votes on new Covid restrictions.
Senior Tories like Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Steve Baker, Tom Tugendhat and Tobias Ellwood have said they will vote against at least some of the measures, with MPs particularly angry at plans to bring in Covid passports for night clubs and large events.
MPs will have four votes today on individual new Covid restrictions, including mandatory Covid passports and face masks.
They will also vote on the government’s proposal to make vaccines mandatory for all frontline NHS and social care staff and to make people take daily tests if they are in close contact with an Omicron case.
They are still expected to pass through the House of Commons, despite the Tory rebellion, with Labour set to support all the restrictions.
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab defended the measures today, telling the BBC that they will mean “we go into this Christmas in a very different position to last year” and “people can feel reassured”.
He also said Covid passports are not “an unreasonable thing” to mandate for night clubs and large events.
Ellwood, a former defence secretary and current chair of the Defence Select Committee, said the proposed Covid passes regulation was “illogical” as people can have “proof of having two jabs, which may have been completed six months ago, so even with a new mutation you could actually be carrying Covid”.
“If you can turn up with just a piece of paper, that documentation you’ve received that says you’ve had two jabs completed six months ago, that will not prevent Covid from entering a large venue,” he said.
Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh yesterday compared the Covid passport rule to a Nazi Germany-type measure – a comment that was widely criticised by Jewish groups for being inaccurate and offensive.