Marcus Fysh MP condemns ‘draconian’ Covid vaccine passports

MARCUS Fysh MP has criticised the Government’s plans to bring in vaccine passports as part of its move to Plan B coronavirus measures.  

Boris Johnson confirmed the move to Plan B yesterday (Wednesday, December 8) to limit the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. 

From tomorrow (Friday), face coverings will be required in more public settings, including theatres and cinemas, and from Monday, people will be asked to work from home where possible. 

From Wednesday, an NHS Covid passport or a negative lateral flow test will be required to enter nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and all events with more than 10,000 people. 

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the shift to Plan B is an attempt to “buy time” to avoid the threat of a million Omicron infections by the end of the year. 

Mr Javid acknowledged the decisions will have a “real impact on our liberties”, but he insisted that taking action now is the only way to avoid having to impose tougher measures later.

He was met with criticism from some Conservative MPs as he announced the measures in the House of Commons at the same time as the prime minister addressed the nation yesterday. 

Conservative anger has been fuelled by suspicions the new measures were introduced as an attempt to distract from the prime minister’s troubles over an alleged staff party in Downing Street during last December’s lockdown.

At PMQs yesterday, the prime minister apologised “unreservedly for the offence” caused by a leaked video of Downing Street staff members making jokes about a Christmas party that reportedly took place at Downing Street on December 18.

Hours later, Allegra Stratton, a Government advisor and former Downing Street press secretary, resigned for her comments in the video “that seemed to make light of the rules”. 

Somerset County Gazette: PARTY COMMENTS: Allegra Stratton announced her resignation as an adviser to Boris Johnson outside her north London home yesterday (Image: Jonathan Brady, PA Wire)PARTY COMMENTS: Allegra Stratton announced her resignation as an adviser to Boris Johnson outside her north London home yesterday (Image: Jonathan Brady, PA Wire)

There is the prospect of a large Tory revolt against the new regulations in a debate and vote in the Commons next week. 

The measures are likely to be approved with support from the Labour Party. 

Mr Fysh, the Conservative MP for Yeovil, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme vaccine passports are “a massive imposition on our liberties” and a “massive attack” on personal freedom.

Asked by Martha Kearney about the timing of the Plan B announcement, Mr Fysh said: “I think it’s important not to get distracted from what’s being proposed, which is really draconian in terms of the imposition of vaccine passports.”

Responding to a question about people being allowed to show negative lateral flow tests to access large venues, Mr Fysh said he welcomes “the emphasis on lateral flow testing rather than self-isolation”. 

Parliament is expected to vote on the measures on Tuesday, December 14.

Mr Fysh said: “Of course I’ll vote against it, everybody should vote against it.

“This is a fundamental thing about what sort of society we want to live in.

“It’s a disgrace that they’re pursuing that. Utter disgrace.” 

Somerset County Gazette: "DRACONIAN": Marcus Fysh MP said he will vote against Plan B Covid measures next week (Image: Chris McAndrew, UK Parliament)“DRACONIAN”: Marcus Fysh MP said he will vote against Plan B Covid measures next week (Image: Chris McAndrew, UK Parliament)

The prime minister also suggested in his televised press conference yesterday a “national conversation” is needed about mandatory Covid-19 vaccines. 

Asked about the prospect of mandatory jabs by Ms Kearney, Mr Fysh said: “Even worse. It’s just ridiculous what is going on in the world at the moment. There has to be precaution about this virus.”

He added: “I would counsel him against doing that, very, very strongly.”

In the interview, Mr Fysh also said he “wouldn’t condone what has happened there” regarding the reported Downing Street party but said it should not distract “from these basic small-l liberal issues.”

He said: “We have a liberal tradition in this country that is something we should cherish, and protect, and promote at home and internationally. 

“This is just the wrong way to do it based on this evidence at this time.” 

According to Professor Tim Spector, leader of the ZOE Covid-19 Study, the Omicron variant appears to be “more transmissible than Delta” but is “causing milder cold-like symptoms”. 

He added: “However, this is not a reason to be relaxed about Omicron.

“Covid is unpredictable and, even if most only feel like they’ve got a cold, there are far more long-term risks than a cold carries.”

The Plan B measures will be reviewed on January 5 before their expiry date of January 26.

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