Dominic Raab’s parliamentary assistant has today raised concerns over the government’s plan to introduce mandatory vaccine passports for large events.
Tory MP Joy Morrissey, the parliamentary private secretary for the Foreign Office, has broken with the government’s stance and tweeted she was “very concerned at the idea of vaccine passports generally, but in particular the effect they will have on small businesses”.
Parliamentary private secretaries act as a go-between for ministers and backbenchers, ensuring that there is party discipline in the House of Commons.
It is often the first job for new MPs that aspire to move into ministerial posts.
Morrissey’s statement comes just a day after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed the government was on track to make vaccine passports mandatory for night clubs and large events at the end of the month.
“I am very concerned at the idea of vaccine passports generally, but in particular the effect they will have on small businesses,” Morrissey said.
“Beaconsfield has a lot of small businesses and hospitality venues, I will be trying to speak for them in the [Department for Health and Social Care] statement this afternoon.”
The government initially ruled out mandatory Covid certification, after a review led by Michael Gove.
Boris Johnson then announced in July that Covid certification for large events and night clubs would be brought in by the end of September, after low vaccine take-up rates among under-30s.
It is unclear if the current plan will allow people to give evidence of a negative Covid test instead of proof of vaccination.
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Zahawi said: “We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process.
“If you look at what the FA has done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football, that is the sort of right thing to do. We are absolutely on track to continue to make sure we do that.”
The plan to introduce mandatory vaccine passports has been poorly received by many Tory backbenchers, with some predicting that a vote on the measure would not pass through the House of Commons.
All opposition parties and senior Conservatives like Steve Baker and Iain Duncan Smith have indicated in the past that they would vote against the measure.