The Facts

The UK government has admitted that proving your Covid status is “likely to become a feature of our lives”, whilst restrictions continue to ease across the nation.

In an attempt to restart the economy, the UK is trying to make it easier for people to prove their vaccination status, so as to make it easier to reduce social distancing and allow international travel.

Whilst Boris Johnson has urged that the UK “must not be complacent”, the authorities are sticking to their roadmap for lifting lockdown in certain areas of the nation, including England, as ‘stage two’ will commence on 12 April.

Currently, when a person receives a Covid vaccination, they receive a vaccination card and the record of the jab is stored on their medical records.

Stages two and three will not involve Covid passports, according to Boris Johnson.

He said, “There is absolutely no question of people being asked to produce a certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to the hairdressers or whatever on Monday.” 

“And indeed, we’re not planning that for step three, either.”

It will be legal, however, for businesses to ask customers for Covid statuses, provided they do not break existing equalities legislation.

The proposal for Covid passports has sparked controversy.

David Kurten, Heritage Party leader and London mayoral candidate, has urged people to ‘reject the new normal’ and described the idea of Covid passports as ‘medical fascism’.

Previously, Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins said he was planning to draft new employment contracts for his staff, requiring them to have the jab.

In order to answer the question, one must first ascertain what it means to be British in the first place.

Many would say it simply means to hold a British passport, whilst others would say that it means to hold a certain set of values, and the accompanying expectations and values.

Lucinda Platt, from the London School of Economics (LSE), comments that there are certain fundamental aspects of British values that are expected in all levels of society, and should be taught in schools.

These values include: “democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

A key element of her analysis includes individual liberty. Whilst it’s reasonable for laws to be in place to prevent crime, it is clear that the UK should be as an egalitarian as possible, allowing for citizens to be free to make their own choices.

If an individual chooses not to have a vaccine for any reason (religious, philosophical, health-wise or otherwise), they should not be forced to for any reason.

The Good Morning Britain panel debates whether or not vaccine passports are necessary. Video credit: Good Morning Britain

The UK government has never proposed mandatory vaccinations by physical force, however, the proposed idea of Covid passports is enforced through the back door. Force does not have to necessarily take the form of physical means.

If a person feels coerced into taking a vaccine, then the illusion of ‘free choice’ is shattered. There is a fine line between cause and effect and coercion.

That coercion is based upon the premise that our freedoms have to be earned, as if citizens aren’t entitled to exercise their right to bodily autonomy.

Concepts such as Covid passports have the potential to fundamentally alter citizens’ relationship with the state.

A fundamental principle of UK culture and values is free choice and egalitarianism. Therefore, by definition, Covid passports cannot be British.

Vaccine passports protect the Great British community

The debate on vaccine passports is intense, but the community’s perspective should outweigh the position that so-called civil liberties are “under threat”. The public thinks so, with many Yougov polls showing support for vaccine passports. Vaccine passports are needed. Even if you think Britain is a country defined by its civil liberties, great nations are great because they are communities not full of purely individualistic people.  

When we talk about Great Britain’s greatness, the community is needed way more than complete and utter freedom. There may be some in this country that wants absolute freedom, but that is unachievable. If we were given complete freedom, there would be no Great Britain! Speed limits are a pain to follow, but they save other people’s freedoms. Having a seatbelt on may restrict your freedom of choice not to wear a seat belt, but seatbelts protect lives.

Vaccine passports and vaccine themselves may seem like they are taking away rights, but they are protecting rights in reality. Most importantly, vaccine passports defend the rights of the great British community. Having these passports in place means as a community, we all know that when we go out to watch our favourite singers, performers, or football teams, we are safe, and there is less risk of a mass outbreak. It is the same logic when we talk about wearing a mask in stores. We are not just protecting ourselves, but we also protect everyone else when we wear a mask.

To suggest that freedom is all about the individual misses the goalpost. Real freedom is about the individual and the community. Vaccines are the way forward for protecting both the individual and, more importantly, the great British public. Great nations are built on communities, and vaccine passports allow that great legacy to flourish for longer.  

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Aaron Fenton-Hewitt is an aspiring journalist and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from London Metropolitan University, and a Master's in Writing for Creative and Professional Practice from Middlesex University. He wishes to continue his academic career, with a PhD in Politics or related field.

Aaron is also a freelance photographer, an avid foodie and an Arsenal supporter.

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Hamish Hallett is a journalist/broadcaster part of the scribe team at Common Sense. He has a deep interest in current affairs, both domestically and internationally, which you can see through his written work and his podcast called A Spoonful of News. Hamish loves to understand what makes people tick and get to the root of today's issues. Away from the network, Hamish has a profound interest in reading books, keeping active, travailing, meeting new and exciting people and controversially having ham and pineapple on pizza.

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