Coronavirus passports “go against the DNA” of Boris Johnson but they will end the pandemic, the vaccines minister has insisted amid fury from Tory MPs.
Nadhim Zahawi was scolded from all sides of the Commons as he stood by the Government’s plan to impose vaccine passports on England’s nightclubs and other large venues from the end of this month.
His own backbenchers accused him of “defending the indefensible”, picking a “needless fight” and of pursuing an “overtly discriminatory, pointless” policy.
Promising more detail to be put before Parliament soon, Mr Zahawi told the Commons the measure “pains me” and “goes against the DNA of this minister and his Prime Minister”.
But he insisted the “precautionary measure” would be “part of our armoury to transition this virus over the winter months from a pandemic to epidemic”, adding it will ensure nightclubs do not become “super-spreader events” and forced to “flip flop back into lockdown”.
Labour said it could not support any use of vaccine passports to access any essential services, prompting Mr Zahawi to say “some essential services” would be exempt such as public sector buildings, essential retail, essential services and public transport.
Civil liberty campaigners gathered to protest in Westminster on Wednesday with a billboard showing ministers ruling out vaccine passports just weeks ago.