Good morning. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has been doing the minister for broadcasting slot this morning, and on the Today programme he effectively admitted that the government has been talking up the need for vaccine passports recently to encourage younger people to get the jab. A week and a half ago Boris Johnson made the surprise announcement that, from the end of September, vaccine passports would be required for people wanting to go to nightclubs. Since then it has emerged that ministers are also considering them for Premier League football matches and for students wanting to stay in halls of residence or to attend lectures.
Many people will have taken the view that it is blindingly obvious that the government has been using the threat of not being allowed to attend events as a means of strong-arming the young (the group with the lowest vaccine take-up) to get jabbed. But no senior minister has said so in public this explicitly, and Raab’s comment also begs the question, if the threat actually works, will vaccine passports then still be needed in the autumn?
After talking about the case for vaccine passports, Raab told the Today programme:
We got 70% of people double vaccinated, in terms of the adult population. We need to encourage more and more of those who have not yet got the vaccinations to receive it. What we just don’t want to do is hold the country back for those that, for whatever reasons, haven’t taken up that offer …
I was in France earlier this week. We’ve seen, when they signalled in various different areas that you would need double vaccination in order to proceed in one or other area, they got a big surge of people getting the double vaccinations. And so it is a little bit of coaxing and cajoling, and also making clear that ultimately, over September, when we know we’ll see an increase in cases, that we can control that with backstop, safeguard measures.
When it was put to Raab that he was implying the UK was following France, where Covid passes are being rolled out widely, he initially resisted the charge. He said:
I wasn’t bringing it up to say we’re following the French model. I was bringing it up to demonstrate that what you can actually do, and in some areas, if you’re careful, is encourage take up of the vaccination.
But then he said the government should be considering copying policies from abroad that are effective at increasing vaccine take-up. He said:
You’d be criticising me as foreign secretary if I wasn’t learning from countries, whether it’s in Europe or in Asia, which responded very effectively to the early [pandemic]. What I’m saying is I will learn from any country that has got experience of rapid increase in take-up of the vaccine
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on compliance with isolation for people testing positive.
11am: Latest test and trace performance figures are published.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
1pm: Tony Blair, the former PM, and John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, speak at an event on the climate crisis at the Science Museum.
2pm: Public Health England publishes its latest weekly Covid surveillance report.
Afternoon: Boris Johnson speaks at the Global Education Summit.
Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently and that will probably be the case today. For more coronavirus developments, do follow our global Covid live blog.
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