Friday, 15 Oct 2021

‘Come off the fence!’ Labour’s Lucy Powell blasted over vaccine passport stance

Julia Hartley-Brewer tells Labour to ‘come off the fence’

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Keir Starmer’s shadow business minister was shamed during an interview with radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer over Labour’s position on vaccine passports. Yesterday Boris Johnson hinted that some proof of vaccination could be used domestically to access entertainment venues and events in the near future. Ms Hartley-Brewer challenged Labour’s Lucy Powell on why her party was not able to “get off the fence” and pick a clear position on the policy.

Asked by Ms Hartley-Brewer if vaccine passport were a “price too high” for return to normal, Ms Powell replied: “I think has Keir said earlier in the week it is a complex issue.

“But I think he is right to say that is goes against some of our instincts and I think it goes against some of the science around community protection which is what the vaccine programme is ultimately about.”

However, the Labour MP added: “If [vaccine passports] can help some of the larger events begin to happen sooner rather than later it is worth looking at.”

“How does someone have a vaccine passport for a large event but not for a small event?” quizzed Ms Hartley-Brewer. 

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The host continued: “I am horrified that the government is considering this.

“I am buoyed up that some many MPs are actually coming forward and say they oppose it and I was buoyed up that Kier Starmer at least started questioning it.

“But why does the Labour Party find it so hard to come off the fence on this.

“And just say this is ethically wrong, it is completely unBritish that is not how we do things.”

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She added: “Why doesn’t Labour want to come off the fence and just say that?”

It comes as more than 40 Tory MPs joined a cross-party campaign against the use of Covid passports for access to pubs and venues.

Former Cabinet ministers including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey, Andrew Mitchell and Sir John Redwood signed the pledge along with a string of senior opposition figures ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Johnson is expected to lay out proposals for a vaccine passport trial on Easter Monday, with theatres and stadiums the first to test the scheme.


The vaccinated will be able to update details on the NHS Covid app, allowing venues to see that they have been given a jab against coronavirus. 

Theatres and stadiums will be involved in the first vaccine certificates rollout, with pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas possibly taking it up later on.

From April 12, close to a dozen “large events” will reportedly be pilots for vaccine certificates, including the FA Cup final, an FA Cup semi-final, the League Cup final and the World Snooker Championships.

However, Steve Baker, Tory MP for Wycombe and deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group, said such certificates would be “unthinkable”.


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