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UK: 70 MPs Sign Pledge against Government’s COVID Passport Plans

UK: 70 MPs Sign Pledge against Government’s COVID Passport Plans
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By Staff, Agencies

Over 70 UK lawmakers, including 40 Conservatives, warned the British government over its plans to use COVID-19 vaccine passports within the country.

On Thursday, a cross-party group of politicians signed a pledge against the move, vowing they will oppose "the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses, or jobs."

The signatories include ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and former Cabinet ministers Esther McVey, Andrew Mitchell, and Sir John Redwood, as well as leading Tory COVID rebels Mark Harper and Steve Baker.

One more signatory is Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, who described COVID-status certification as something that "would be divisive and discriminatory."

"With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place," Brady added.

Also signing the pledge was a 20-strong group of Labor MPs, among them former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and ex-Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Labor peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, who also joined the campaign, dubbed the possible introduction of internal COVID passports "an authoritarian step too far."

The pledge's signatories included almost all Liberal Democrat MPs, with their party leader Sir Ed Davey earlier labelling the use of COVID passports within Britain "illiberal" and "unworkable."

"As we start to get this virus properly under control, we should start getting our freedoms back, vaccine passports - essentially COVID ID cards - take us in the other direction," Davey argued.

He was echoed by another signatory, Sam Grant, of the UK-based rights group Liberty, who asserted that any COVID passport system may lead to a "two-tier society" as well as "inequality and division."

The campaign comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Thursday that "there's definitely going to be a world in which international travel will use vaccine passports."

He also admitted that a similar COVID certification scheme to show if someone has had a vaccine "will be useful" within the UK. The remarks followed Johnson saying last week that pub goers could be asked to show a COVID-19 vaccine certificate.

The Daily Telegraph has, meanwhile, reported that COVID passports may be tested within weeks at several pilot events, including the FA Cup Final, the World Snooker Championships, and the Brit Awards. A UK government spokesperson, however, reportedly said that "no decisions" on the matter have been taken yet and that "it might be a tool we look at as part of pilots, but no more than that."