Jacob Rees-Mogg lambasts vaccine passports plan as Tory split grows

Commons leader says asking people “to show their papers” is “not a British way to behave” in clear swipe at Boris Johnson

Commons leader Jacob Rees Mogg

Routine use of vaccine passports is “not a British way to behave”, senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogghas warned in a fresh sign of a split at the top of Government.

Cabinet ministers lined up last week to praise firms planning to demand that staff are double-vaccinated before they can return to workplaces.

But the plan risks further dividing the Conservatives as they grapple with how to persuade more people to get jabbed against coronavirus.

Backbench Tories are furious about using vaccine passports to go to work and are threatening a rebellion.

The Lib Dems have demanded a recall of Parliament to debate Covid status certificates and Labourvowed to oppose their use for everyday situations.

Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg said the Government must consider the need to preserve “ancient freedoms”, as well as curbing the spread of Covid-19.

“We don’t want to get into a society where routinely people are expected to show their papers,” he said.

“That is not a British way to behave.”

Figures show 88.6% of adults have had a first jab and 72.7% a second dose.

Booster shots are due to be rolled out from the first week of September, with pharmacies tipped to play a key role in vaccinating.

St Andrews University professor of psychology Stephen Reicher, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Insights group on Behaviour (SPI-B), urged young people to get jabbed.

He said: “There’s some evidence that the young people are beginning to say, ‘Well, why should I get vaccinated if it doesn’t really matter, if infection doesn’t matter, why should I do things to avoid infection?’

“I think the messaging is really critical from government as well – it needs to be consistent, it needs to be clear, and it needs to be about not only the fact that the pandemic is still there and it’s necessary to do something, but this is a matter not only of personal responsibility, but a social responsibility of doing things for others, doing things for the community so the community as a whole can reopen safely.

“I think the messaging, as well as the practical support, are key things that the Government needs to be involved in.”


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