Southampton – it’s where so many great chapters in English history have begun. From the Agincourt archers to the Pilgrim Fathers’ discovery, the ‘Gateway to the Empire’ has seen countless memorable journeys over the years. Unfortunately, one of those leaving Soton’s berth yesterday did not live up to such past glories after exercising a last minute U-turn with all the adroitness of the Titanic, trying to avoid that iceberg.
For Royston Smith – the Member for Southampton Itchen – last night pulled off something of a reverse Mission Impossible, snatching shame from the mouth of glory after being one of just two self-declared vaccine passport rebels to instead vote for the measure. Smith, who told his local newspaper just six days ago that: ‘As for covid passports, I have never supported them and still don’t,’ was in a feisty mood on the morning of the vote, criticising George Osborne for backing such measures, declaring: ‘The point is George we’re not being ‘asked’ we’re being mandated’.
Yet the former RAF engineer seems to have lost his bearings in the voting lobbies last night for he ended being one of the 227 Tories to back vaccine passports. Curiously, his social media accounts seem remarkably silent about this sudden U-turn, with not a single tweet or Facebook status issued since yesterday lunchtime. Smith has subsequently told constituents that he got confused on the parliamentary procedure and, having planned to rebel, he found himself accidentally in the wrong voting lobby and voted for the measure by mistake. The other rebel who did a volte face was Robert Goodwill, who wrote