Vaccine passports go against “British instinct”, says Keir Starmer

Elliot Chappell

Keir Starmer has suggested that the introduction of coronavirus vaccine passports for domestic use would be against “the British instinct” ahead of an update on the government’s review into Covid certificates on Monday.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Labour leader commented on remarks from Boris Johnson last week at the liaison committee in which he indicated that the government is considering the use of vaccine passports in pubs.

“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,” Starmer said.

The Prime Minister said last week that pub landlords could be allowed to require punters to show vaccine certification for entry. Downing Street later clarified that those that did would also have to provide testing for the non-vaccinated.

Government ministers are reportedly considering allowing something similar for business conferences, sports matches, music festivals, theatres, big wedding venues, comedy clubs and even some workplaces.

The Labour leader today described the question of whether to introduce a domestic vaccine passport as “difficult”, but argued “this idea that we sort of outsource this to individual landlords is just wrong in principle”.

He added: “My instinct is that… [if] we get the virus properly under control, the death rates are near zero, hospital admissions very, very low, that the British instinct in those circumstances will be against vaccine passports.”

Polling suggests support for vaccine passports is high. Most people in the UK support the idea of vaccine passports according to recent research, with 62% saying they would be fine with using one to get into a pub or restaurant.

The recent poll by Ipsos MORI, which surveyed more than 8,300 people aged over 16 across the country, found that 78% were in favour of a Covid vaccine passport to travel abroad or to visit a relative living in a care home.

Support for a vaccine certificate remained high for other activities as well, including visiting a loved one in hospital (74%), going to the theatre or an indoor concert (68%) and for gym use or leisure centre use (63%).

Around 61% of those who responded to the survey also supported their use to attend open-air music concerts and sports events, while 58% reported that they would accept having to use vaccine passports on public transport.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove is conducting the review into the use of Covid vaccine certification. Gove is due to provide an update on the work of the review on Monday.

Starmer reflected on Labour’s record on policing and crime in the interview, saying the party had not been “strong enough” on the issue in recent years. “I know what it means for a community here or across the country not to feel safe,” he said.

“And by that I mean simple testimony – if you don’t feel you can go out after dark down your own street or road, there is something fundamentally wrong. And too many people are in that position.”

He also commented on Brexit, arguing that there is “no case for rejoining the EU”. “We’ve left. We are no longer a member of the EU. We’ve got a deal, we’ve got to make that deal work,” he said. “The Remain-Leave debate is over.”

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