The under-fire prime minster suffered his biggest revolt of his premiership after almost 100 Tories rebelled against his crackdown to fight the Omicron variant.
The new measures passed the Commons thanks to the support of Labour, but the PM’s attempts to quell a rebellion on his own backbenches failed as a large number of his MPs defied the whip to vote against him on the issue of the passes, which have also been known as vaccine passports.
A humiliating 96 Tories defied their leader to oppose the controversial measures for Covid passes in England. A further two Tories acted as tellers for the noes.
While 369 MPs backed the move, giving a majority of 243.
The vote means that people will now be required to show Covid ‘passes’ in crowded places.
Other key developments tonight include:
- Masks will remain compulsory in virtually all indoor settings – including cinemas and theatres.
- A mandate for all NHS staff to be vaccinated in order to keep working was backed
- Daily lateral flow tests will replace isolation for close Covid contacts, while the 15-minute waiting time post-jab will now be scrapped.
- The travel red list will be scrapped, with all 11 countries taken off.
Before tonight, the biggest rebellion Mr Johnson had faced was in December 2020, against the strengthening of Covid-19 tier restrictions in England.
Then, a total of 55 Conservative MPs voted against the Government. This includes the two MPs who acted as tellers for the noes.
Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee and one of the 98 Tory MPs to revolt, said the rebellion was a ‘cry of pain’ by the party.
He told BBC News: ‘This was just a bridge too far. I think they were putting a marker down. It was a cry of pain from the Conservative Party.’
Flick Drummond, Meon Valley MP, supported the PM and voted through the proposals.
‘Considering the concerns about the new variant these seem to be sensible, proportionate and responsible,’ she said.
The Tory MP insisted there was ‘absolutely no intention to bring in “vaccine passports” as some have said’.
‘We are simply asking people to have a lateral flow test or to show their vaccination status before they go to heavily-attended activities in a small number of relatively high-risk environments,’ she added.
‘Again, considering the uncertainty around a new variant and increasing infections, this is a sensible response.’
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said he voted for ‘range of measures’ to support the NHS and Portsmouth through the pandemic and 'finally end this deadly virus’.
He added: ‘Omicron is a clear threat to our health. That’s why I want the government to act swiftly to limit its spread across Britain.
I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy Christmas safely this year, and 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.’