Boris Johnson may have had to cancel his trip to India but that hasn’t stopped his colleagues embarking on trips overseas. Michael Gove is in Israel today on a fact-finding mission ahead of his review into immunity vaccine passports. The Cabinet Office minister has been meeting with Israeli politicians, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the foreign minister and health minister.
The trip – which I reported earlier this month – is focussed on what the UK can learn from Israel’s Covid response. Discussions are also taking place on a possible green travel corridor between the two countries for when overseas holidays are allowed again.
So what lessons will Gove learn from his trip? One aspect of the Israeli response of particular interest to Gove is the country’s green pass system – also known as immunity passports. The official line in government is that no final decision has been taken on these. However, Tory MPs invited to participate in ‘listening exercises’ on the topic left with the feeling that the decision has already been made and vaccine passports are a-go.
However, even if Gove is planning to implement them when his review publishes its finding, there is divided opinion in government as to whether they should be used simply for mass events or entering hospitality venues such as pubs. The latter will face large-scale opposition in the Commons.
Vaccine passports aren’t the only aspect of the Israeli response the UK government is looking at. The country’s strict travel rules and even its plans for child immunisation are also being considered.
On the flight back to Britain, Gove would do well to remember that the approach by a country far more used to caution and security as a way of life than the UK is could be much harder to implement here.