Vaccine Passports ‘Unworkable, Expensive, Illiberal’: UK Liberal Democrats

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
October 9, 2021 Updated: October 9, 2021

The UK’s opposition Liberal Democrats stand in “clear and principled” opposition to COVID-19 vaccine passports because they are “unworkable, expensive, and illiberal,” the party’s leader said on Saturday.

Though the UK’s Conservative government has dropped its plan to adopt vaccine passports for nightclubs and crowded events in England, the local administrations in Scotland and Wales have announced they will go ahead with the scheme.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, which has 12 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, highlighted the party’s consistent stance against what he branded “COVID ID cards.”

“Liberal Democrats have always been clear. COVID ID cards are unworkable, expensive, and illiberal,” he told a virtual conference of the party’s Scottish and Welsh branches.

Davey said the Liberal Democrats have adopted a “principled response” to the schemes across the UK, because they are “not a real solution” and would “place an unfair extra burden on local businesses who’ve been through so much already.”

The UK’s Conservative government, which is responsible for health policies in England, had planned to require vaccine passports for nightclubs and crowded events, but dropped the plan on Sept. 12 after it came under pressure from industry leaders and its own backbench MPs.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plan will be kept “in reserve” and could be adopted again if the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus situation worsens.

Scotland, where the Scottish National Party (SNP) is in power, went ahead with its own vaccine passport scheme and started requiring people attending large events and nightclubs to produce proofs of vaccination on Oct. 1.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had to apologise on Oct. 5 for problems with the app for the vaccine certification scheme, as opposition leaders called the “chaotic scenes” a “predictable disaster” caused by the SNP government itself.

Wales, where the Labour party is in power, is also bringing in a similar scheme, due to launch on Oct. 11.

At Saturday’s video conference, Davey contrasted his party’s approach with those of the other parties, saying the Conservatives were “pressing ahead” with plans for vaccine passports in England while at the same time opposing them in Scotland and Wales.

He also slammed Labour’s inconsistent positions, saying the party “aren’t sure where they stand in England, but they oppose them in Scotland, and are bringing them in in Wales, and they even required COVID ID cards for their own party conference in Brighton.”

Davey said the Scottish Greens had “seemed to oppose” vaccine passports but then “voted for them” after they reached a cooperation agreement with the SNP and joined the Scottish government.

“It’s only been us—the Liberal Democrats—with clear principles across the United Kingdom, taking a clear and principled position that unites our party across England, Scotland, and Wales,” he told the conference.

PA contributed to this report.