Vaccine passports for entry to pubs, bars and restaurants would go against the “British instinct”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Labour leader said he would only decide his party’s official stance on the scheme once he had studied detailed proposals.
“I think this is really difficult and I’m not going to pretend there’s a clear black and white, yes-no easy answer on this. It is extremely difficult,” Starmer told the paper.
“My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don’t actually want to go down this road,” he said.
Starmer also rejected the Prime Minister’s suggestions that the decision over whether to enforce vaccine passports should be left up to individual pub landlords.
The Labour leader described Boris Johnson’s comments as “just wrong in principle”, though he admitted that vaccine passports for international travel are somewhat inevitable.
Starmer’s comments will come as a major boost for libertarian-minded Conservative MPs who have voiced their stiff opposition to the plans.
Desmond Swayne, member of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, told City A.M. yesterday that vaccine passports represented “the thin end of a very thick wedge”.
“This takes us back to the debates of the early 2000’s when Labour sought to introduce ID cards, because that is exactly what the ‘passports’ will become,” he said.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis told City A.M: “Whitehall salivates over identity management. I don’t want Whitehall managing my identity very much, my identity belongs to me not to the state, and I don’t want them utilising my data.”
The Liberal Democrats also oppose the plans, with leader Ed Davey saying yesterday that they were “unworkable and iliberal”.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is currently leading a review into the use of Covid vaccine certificates, which could see pubs and restaurants turn away patrons if they haven’t had a jab or a recent negative test.
Boris Johnson has said the results of the review will be made public on either 5 or 12 April, ahead of plans to reopen parts of the hospitality sector in two weeks’ time.