This morning I tested positive for Covid-19 and am self-isolating. As a result, I can’t vote on the new Covid regulations proposed by the Government. I’m also not able to vote by proxy because the Government removed arrangements for MPs to vote remotely or by proxy.
I know that this issue is important to many of you, and I would like to explain how I would have voted had I been able to do so.
Omnicron is a new threat on top of the existing variants of the virus, and we need to act swiftly to limit its spread. Throughout the pandemic, as the Opposition, we have always put public health before party politics, and we will continue to do so. We will support the measures on their merits.
Many of the emails I have received refer to ‘vaccination passports’ as if we will all be required to show that we have been vaccinated to access essential services. This is not what is being proposed. The vote will be on Covid passes where we will have to show either vaccination status or proof of a recent negative lateral flow test in order to gain entry to large venues and mass gatherings where there is a greater risk because of the number of people attending. The Government regulations set out the details around this.
Vaccination remains the most important weapon we have available to us in the fight against the pandemic. The evidence is now clear that it helps to reduce severe infection and death, and we have an obligation to one another to provide the maximum protection against the virus.
I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy Christmas safely this year, and we also want to make sure we protect our NHS – which has been suffering a staffing shortage and record waiting lists since before the pandemic hit, thanks to 11 years of Conservative mismanagement.
We called on the Government to include an option to present a negative test as an alternative to vaccination status, and to ensure the app isn’t required for access to essential services.
The Government listened to us, and the Covid pass will be valid for people who choose to present a negative test instead of proof of vaccination status.
I therefore support the measures being introduced in Parliament today.