He’s only been at the health department for less than six months but has the Saj already gone native in the role? Steerpike hoped that the fetishisation of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing had disappeared with the ejection of Matt Hancock from government. But last night the panicked package of measures in response to the Omicron variant has many backbench Tories in a state of near fury, with one messaging Mr S to complain that Plan B is 'simply awful.'
Fortunately, while Boris Johnson appears to now be a fully signed-up member of the Blob – telling his press conference that ‘we’re going to need to have a national conversation about the way forward’ on the unvaccinated – there are signs of some resistance within the government. Angela Richardson, the aide sacked (and then reinstated) for rebelling on the Owen Paterson motion, tweeted: ‘I can say categorically that compulsory vaccinations are a step too far. That is my contribution to a national conversation.’
And Javid has now hinted that his libertarian leanings are not completely dead by signalling his opposition to mandatory vaccination. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, the Health Secretary moved to shut down any conversation about such proposals, declaring it was wrong to ‘force’ everyone to have a jab. He said:
“My view is that it’s unethical and also at a practical level it wouldn’t work. If you are asking me about universal mandatory vaccination, as some countries in Europe have said they will do, I just don’t think it would work. Getting vaccinated should be a positive decision.
In further comments on Sky News, the Health Secretary doubled down, confirming that ‘I've got no interest in mandatory vaccinations, apart from in high-risk settings in the NHS and social care, which we've already set out that we will legislate for.’
Still, given the government’s similar past assurances on vaccine passports, can we really trust Javid to hold firm on this?