Boris Johnson set himself up for a potentially volcanic clash with his own backbenchers over Covid vaccine passports tonight by suggesting he might try to get them into law without a vote. The Prime Minister tonight played down fears of any move to require evidence of jabs to go to pubs or restaurants before the summer as he confirmed hospitality venues will reopen – outdoors at least – on April 12.
But as a review claimed they are ‘likely to become a feature of our lives’ until the end of the pandemic he appeared to sidestep demands for a vote on any new legislation by Tory MPs. A hard core of Mr Johnson’s own backbenchers would oppose them on civil liberties grounds, and Labour has hinted it could follow suit, meaning they could be thrown out by the Commons.
At a Downing Street press conference tonight Mr Johnson left himself wriggle room to avoid such a vote in the first place. ‘First we need to work out what exactly the proposal might be, but certainly if there is something to put to Parliament I am certain we will do that,’ he said.
Bringing in such measures without the express approval of MPs is likely to cause an explosive backlash. Michael Gove is said to have offered a vote to placate furious backbenchers appalled at the idea of forcing Britons to prove their vaccination status to enter pubs and other social hubs.