Boris Johnson has been hit by the biggest rebellion since he became Prime Minister over plans to introduce Covid passports while Omicron was sweeping the UK. But it was not enough to derail the so-called “Plan B”.
MPs held a series of votes on Downing Street’s new Covid strategy on Tuesday and 126 MPs highlighted their discomfort with the mandatory introduction of Covid health certificates for major venues in England by voting against the measure.
About 369 MPs voted for the plan, a majority of 243. A breakdown of the votes revealed that 99 Conservatives voted against the policy.
Among the Tory rebels was Louie French, the newest Conservative MP who was elected less than two weeks ago. Two Tory MPs also acted as cashiers for the no’s.
Eight Labor MPs, ten Liberal Democrats, six DUP, Green MPs Caroline Lucas and Independent MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Rob Roberts also opposed the regulations, according to the list.
As of Tuesday, the biggest rebellion Johnson faced was December 2020 against the tightening of Covid-19 animal restrictions in England.
Then a total of 55 Conservative MPs voted against the government.
The extension of the face mask mandate was passed smoothly and new self-isolation measures were implemented without a vote. A vote on mandatory vaccines for NHS workers also received MPs approval – but the departmental list showed that 61 Conservative MPs voted against the regulations.
In the votes there was never any doubt that Labor supported the measures.
The Prime Minister announced that he would introduce these stricter measures on December 8th, stating that it was now “proportionate and responsible” following the surge in Omicron cases in the UK.
Johnson on Tuesday increased his warnings about the rapidly spreading new strain of Covid and told a virtual cabinet meeting that a “huge surge in Omicron is imminent”.
But the Tory’s unease was reflected in Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Conservative MPs, who said the rebellion was a “cry of pain” from the party.
He told BBC News: “This was just one bridge too far. I think they put a marker. It was a cry of pain from the Conservative Party.
“He (Boris Johnson) is in a very, very, very difficult position. There was a strong opinion within the Conservative Party that vaccination records did not work and that many colleagues did not want to be introduced.
“This is a very, very specific line that is being puffed up and I think the Prime Minister and his team need to listen.”
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922, said a challenge to leadership for the next year would have to be “on the cards” if the prime minister did not change his approach.