Good morning. Last night, as my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports, Labour hardened up its opposition to the government’s plans for Covid-status certificates. It went from calling them un-British (Sir Keir Starmer’s position last week) to saying the party was minded to vote against. And in interviews this morning Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, has fleshed out the new position – using a script that sounded as if it were written by the Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson.
In a blog last night Nelson, who is probably one of the columnists most influential with Tory MPs, argued that Boris Johnson’s plans were incoherent. He said:
His ministers use ‘vaccine passport’ as a euphemism but even this sounded awful to him. He referred to his plans as ‘Covid status certification’. But a certificate doesn’t have someone’s photo on it. What he is planning is a digital identity card – but loaded with personal health data, so a bioidentity card.
On the Today programme this morning Ashworth, echoing Nelson’s argument, also said that Johnson “couldn’t defend his position”. He said that Johnson was now proposing to let people into pubs on the basis of having been vaccinated when only last week he recorded a video saying it was not safe for two vaccinated people to meet indoors because the vaccines do not provide 100% protection. Then Ashworth went on:
When you read the documentary he produced, what he’s essentially proposing is a digital ID card for biomedical details which you would have to present to get into shops or pubs or restaurants.
Asked if Labour would definitely vote against such a plan, he said:
Well, we’ll need to be convinced, but I cannot support a system where you have to present your vaccination ID card in order to get into H&M or Next.
According to the document published last night (pdf), the government has ruled out letting “essential shops” require people to show Covid-status certificates. And it is not saying that non-essential shops, or pubs, would have to impose these checks; but it is proposing that they should be allowed to if they want.
We’re expecting to hear more from Johnson on this later today.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9am: John Holland-Kaye of Heathrow airport, Shai Weiss of Virgin Atlantic and Sean Doyle of British Airways hold a briefing to give their response to what the PM announced yesterday about opening up foreign travel.
9.30am: The ONS publishes data on the social impacts of coronavirus.
11.45am: Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, holds a press conference in Watford to mark the launch of his party’s local elections campaign.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold a lobby briefing.
Also, Boris Johnson is on a visit this morning, where he is expected to speak to the media.
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.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.