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Kent MP Damian Green on why he joined Covid restrictions rebels


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A Kent MP says he joined a revolt on new Covid restrictions because he doubted the usefulness of vaccine passes in combating the new variant.

Ashford MP Damian Green said he had opposed the plans for the passes because he did not think it would curb the spread of the virus.

Damian Green was one of five Kent MPs to vote against the government
Damian Green was one of five Kent MPs to vote against the government

The former minister was among five Kent MPs to vote against the government in last night's votes, which have left some to question the authority of the Prime Minister.

Mr Green, who backed the government on two of the three votes, said he doubted the usefulness of vaccine passes, the most controversial of the restrictions.

He said he had considered the practicality of the measures in deciding how to vote.

"I do not think that it will be at all useful in stopping the spread of the virus.

"I think the general message you can take from the vote is that we all want to see effective measures... masks do some good but I don't think passes will."

'We should all be aware that the government may need to come back with tougher restrictions if some of the more apocalyptic warnings are true but I will want to know they are going to be effective.'

He distanced himself from those who had done so for other reasons.

" I do not think that in such a crisis it is the time to be sending messages...some people did vote to send a message.

"The evidence is that the virus variant maybe a milder version but transmits much more quickly."

He suggested that the government might need to consider further restrictions. "We should all be aware that the government may need to come back with tougher restrictions if some of the more apocalyptic warnings are true but I will want to know they are going to be effective."

He said MPs were doing what they felt was in the public interest and there were different opinions on both sides. "Everyone is treating this with the seriousness it deserves...people took their votes very seriously."

MP Tom Tugendhat also voted against the government. Picture: Parliament TV
MP Tom Tugendhat also voted against the government. Picture: Parliament TV

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat also voted against the government.

He said: "“I do not believe the government should insist on vaccine passports.

"We know that private venues already require certain qualifications for entry but there is an important difference between a private organisation setting conditions and the government mandating them.

"For these conditions to be made law, the benefits should be clear, and the French and Scottish experiences show this is not the case.

"Paris has had vaccine passports for months and Holyrood decided to require vaccine passports for venues some time ago but neither has been more effective in reducing Covid transmission rates than England or other parts of the United Kingdom.

“Sadly, those rules will leave some excluded and threaten businesses that are already struggling.

"It exposes those who have worked hard to build our communities to greater economic risk which undermines our ability to bounce back.”

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