Good morning. When the government published details of its review of the case for Covid-status certificates earlier this month, it did not attract a huge amount of attention. Partly that was because Boris Johnson was already on record as sounding sceptical. And partly that was because there has been a lot of confusion about what is being proposed anyway. At one stage the media just talked about “vaccine passports”. Then people began to differentiate between a vaccine document for use for international travel, and another for use domestically, when applying for a job, or access to a venue. And then these “vaccine passports” were rebranded “Covid-status certificates”, as ministers made it clear that they wanted people who have no not been vaccinated to get the same benefits by being apply to prove a recent negative test.
But yesterday, in a newsy session with the Commons liaison committee, Johnson sent the idea soaring to the top of the news agenda by appearing to suggest that he would be happy to see pubs exclude people who have not been vaccinated.
Later aides suggested that what he meant was that pubs would be able to exclude people without Covid-status certificates, but his comment still amounted to the clearest proof yet that we are heading for a world where access to many events or venues is likely to depend on being able to produce the right piece of paper, or the appropriate notification on your phone. As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports, the government may encourage this by allowing pubs that impose these conditions to ignore social distancing rules.
Later MPs are debating the extension of Covid restrictions and this issue is bound to come up in the debate. This is what Steve Baker, one of the most lockdown-sceptic Tories, posted on Twitter last night.
This morning Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, revealed Labour also had concerns about the PM’s plan. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:
If the government has got evidence that this is necessary for people to go to hospitality venues, let’s look at that evidence …
And indeed if it was necessary, why would you be leaving it up to individual landlords? If this was really a public health measure, you wouldn’t be saying, ‘Well, it is going to be a landlord discretion’ – you’d be saying, ‘This is the government’s view, this is what’s safe’. So there are many, many unanswered questions about this.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The Department for Work and Pensions publishes annual poverty figures.
9.30am: Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, delivers an election campaign statement.
10am: Department for Education officials give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about Covid and education.
10.30am: Labour asks an urgent question in the Commons about the Greensill Capital affair.
11am: Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, delivers a speech on jobs and the green economy. As my colleague Heather Stewart reports, he will say interest-free government loans should be made available to help up to a million households buy electric cars over the next two years.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.
After 12.30pm: MPs are expected to start their debate on extending the Coronavirus Act and Covid restrictions. Voting on the five related motions (pdf) will start at 5pm.
Afternoon: EU leaders hold a virtual meeting where vaccine export rules will be discussed.
2pm: Public Health England publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.
2.30pm: George Eustice, the environment secretary, gives evidence to the Commons environment committee.
Politics Live has been mostly about Covid for the last year and I will be covering UK coronavirus developments today, as well as non-coronavirus Westminster politics. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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