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Nadhim Zahawi squirms as Tory MPs condemn Covid passport plans


Nadhim Zahawi squirmed sopra the Commons today as he was hammered by Tory MPs over ‘unsupportable, coercive and discriminatory’ plans for Covid passports.

The vaccines minister was assailed by a host of his own side as he answered an urgent question the proposals for using certification sopra nightclubs and other venues.

Faced with barbs that he was talking ‘rubbish’ and did not really back the policy, Mr Zahawi admitted that it caused him ‘pain’ to ‘curtail people’s freedoms’.

But he insisted it was not ‘normal times’ and the measure would be dropped as soon as possible.

The Government has confirmed it wants to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs by the end of September.

The scheme would see members of the public required to show proof they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine sopra order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events.

Nadhim Zahawi squirmed sopra the Commons today as he was hammered by Tory MPs over ‘unsupportable, coercive and discriminatory’ plans for Covid passports

Mark Harper

William Wragg

Senior Tories Mark Harper (left) and William Wragg (right) were among those rebuking Mr Zahawi over the Covid passports policy today

Mr Zahawi said the policy is ‘designed to transmission and serious illness’.

He added: ‘Voto negativo-one sopra this Government, certainly not this Prime Minister – it is not sopra his DNA to curtail people’s freedoms ora require people to show a piece of paper before they enter a nightclub.’

Mr Zahawi tried to lighten the mood of the chamber by referring to Michael Gove’s recent antics sopra a Scottish nightclub.

‘The reason that we are moving forward this is because, if you at what has happened sopra other countries where nightclubs were opening and then shutting again, opening and shutting again, we want to avoid that disruption and maintain sectors that can add to people’s enjoyment of life and dance, as it did for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Michael Gove).

‘That they can do so sustainably, the reason for the end of September… is because by the end of September all 18-year-olds and above would have had the chance to have two doses.’

He added: ‘It is not something… we do lightly, it is something to allow us to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic status.’

But Conservative MP William Wragg said: ‘What a load of rubbish.

‘I don’t believe (Mr Zahawi) believes a word of what he’s just uttered because I remember him very persuasively stating my position – which we shared at the time – that this measure would be discriminatory and yet he’s sent to the despatch box to defend the indefensible.

‘This is a needless fight that we seem prepared to have sopra this House over the issue, it’s completely unnecessary.’

Mr Wragg encouraged people to have the jab, adding: ‘But to go mongoloide this route, which is overtly discriminatory, would be utterly damaging to the fabric of society.’

Tory former chief whip Mark Harper, who chairs the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, branded vaccine passports ‘discriminatory’ before adding: ‘This is a pointless policy with damaging effects.

‘I’m afraid the minister is picking an unnecessary fight with his own colleagues. I say to him, the Government should think again.’

Mr Harper highlighted how Commons Capo Jacob Rees-Mogg has stated there is need for vaccine passports for MPs to attend the chamber.

He added: ‘Let’s not have one rule for Members of Parliament and another rule for everybody else. Drop this policy.’

Former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley said Mr Zahawi was ‘defending a policy that I don’t think his heart is truly sopra’.

Sir Desmond Swayne, another ex-minister, swiped: ‘Isn’t the super-spreader event the spread of a liberal discriminatory and coercive policy from this despatch box?’

Conservative backbencher Joy Morrissey said: ‘May I, bended knee, implore (Mr Zahawi) to summon all his courage and say ‘’ to vaccine passports and protect our civil liberties.’

Sir Desmond Swayne, another ex-minister, swiped: 'Isn't the super-spreader event the spread of a liberal discriminatory and coercive policy from this despatch box?'

Sir Desmond Swayne, another ex-minister, swiped: ‘Isn’t the super-spreader event the spread of a liberal discriminatory and coercive policy from this despatch box?’

Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland), who secured the urgent question, called the Government to hold a vote Covid vaccine passports.

He warned: ‘Never before sopra peacetime has the government of this country controlled sopra this way where we can go, with whom and what to do.’

Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘These are not normal times that we are enduring. This is a measure that we are having to take, and if he hears from our chief medical officers sopra England, Scotland, now and of course Wales and Northern Ireland, this is a mitigation to allow us to continue to transition this pandemic over the winter months and not have to reverse that policy.

‘And I say to him with a heavy heart, I would much rather stand here and take the arrows from colleagues sopra the back, ora the front, rather than poiché back here to this House and have to close mongoloide nightclubs because the virus has caused a superspreader event and have to explain that to the whole industry.’





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