EXC: The SNP is open to voting for Covid passports in England. If they back Government then it is almost certain to pass Parliament. With @HarryYorke1 telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/…
SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has opened for door to voting for Covid passports. Here is his full quote to @Telegraph tonight. Image
If the SNP votes with the Government on Covid passports then around 80 Tory MPs would need to rebel to stop it. Possibly more. Way above the 41 currently opposing. A very tall order.
Critically Blackford is arguing the SNP has the right to vote on Covid passports even though it would only impact England. He argues Scots would be affected who visit to see friends or work.
Why would the SNP support Covid checks? One potential answer is Nicola Sturgeon is considering similar moves north of the border. Would be strange to vote down something being adopted in Scotland.
What about the ‘English votes for English laws’ rules (EVEL)? They are currently suspended during the pandemic. And even under those rules, SNP can vote in the final, binding vote on new laws.
To boil it down: Even if a coalition of all Labour MPs, all Lib Dem MPs and say 50 Tory MPs vote against Covid passports it would still likely pass if the SNP sides with the Gov.

Which somewhat checks the momentum of the Tory rebellion.
Worth saying all this is still pretty preliminary. We don’t know what exactly the Government will put to Parli on Covid passports and what vote it would be. Probs some vote before June. But reflects how tricky it will be to defeat the Gov on this.

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More from @benrileysmith

2 Apr
One of the endless debates that will be had over the coming months is what exactly is and is not a Covid passport. The definition is loose and shifting... 1/6
The ‘passport’ bit begun in the discussion on overseas travel (which makes sense linguistically, a document that allows you to fly) before being used in debate about its use in domestic settings.... 2/6
To add to the complexity, the Government has widened out the definition of these checks to include three things: jab, negative test, antibodies. Which helps counter the criticism of discrimination (people who don’t have jab can get tests). 3/6
Read 6 tweets
1 Apr
**news on Covid passports**

1) I understand Government within days will announce new details on a dozen ‘pilots’ for reopening large events. Some are expected to trial Covid passports. The Brit Awards are in talks to be part of scheme.
2) We’re soon getting a load of details on the pilots. Probs at Boris Johnson’s presser Monday. The scheme’s already been announced but lots more coming - full list of events, how it will work, plans for Covid passport trials among them.
3) Having talked to a load of government + industry sources, it is clear around a dozen pilot events are being planned starting early April and running through May. The key aim: working out how reopening large events can happen safely.
Read 10 tweets
28 Mar
EXC: Boris Johnson’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities reports back this week.

It will recommend the term BAME should no longer be used by public bodies and companies. telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/…
BAME is the acronym for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.

The Commission is concerned such a blanket term masks the much more complicated picture of different lived experiences of individual ethnic groups.
A source familiar with the report said the BAME label had become "unhelpful and redundant” in the push to tackle racial inequality.

One concern is firms who increase BAME staff numbers then thinking there’s no need to tackle systemic racial problems, curbing progress.
Read 5 tweets
26 Mar
EXC: Over-70s will start getting their Covid “booster” jabs from September.

@nadhimzahawi tells Telegraph as many as 8 different vaccines could be available then.
The top 4 JCVI priority groups will go first for booster jabs to protected against new variants.

Means some people will be getting three jabs in the space of 10 months.
Drive-through Covid vaccine centres will be created across Britain soon, Zahawi tells us.

Seen as a great way to boost uptake among people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. (Counters possible low take-up among those groups.)
Read 4 tweets
25 Mar
More clarity emerging on pub Covid passports now.... 1/
The Government is interested in letting some businesses check you are ‘Covid safe’ before entering.

Covid safe could mean
A) You’ve had a jab
B) You’ve had a negative test
C) You’ve got antibodies
There is a division of thinking inside Gov into 2 groups

1) Large events. Wembley, festivals etc. Ticketed events which have big crowds. Enthusiasm for Covid safe checks here

2) Smaller gatherings where people can walk in+out like pubs. Some hesitancy on Covid safe checks. 3/
Read 6 tweets
23 Mar
EXC: Children to start getting Covid jabs as early as August under provisional Government plans. Months earlier than expected

Ministers waiting for key Astra trial before giving green light. First indication via safety data due shortly. (W/ @lauradonnlee)
Two sources familiar with the plans tell @Telegraph that August is the earliest point jabs will be rolled out to children.

There had been previous speculation it would be by the end of the year. These timings partly reflect success of the jab drive in the UK.
Important to be clear what we are and are not reporting tonight.

The final green light has NOT been given by ministers. That depends on a key vaccine trial.

But we are reporting what’s being planned assuming trial shows jab is safe for kids. Which is roll-out as early as Aug.
Read 9 tweets

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