A senior Tory MP today claimed the best way to 'persuade' the nation to get a coronavirus vaccination would be for Boris Johnson, his ministers and 'luvvie icons of popular culture' to get one first.
Sir Desmond Swayne, a former minister, said 'lining up the entire Government' to get a jab and then asking celebrities to 'sing its praises' would result in a high take up.
He warned such a move would set a 'terrible precedent' and would 'set the seal on this Government's reputation as the most authoritarian since the Commonwealth of the 1650s'.
Sir Desmond Swayne said Boris Johnson and his ministers should get a coronavirus vaccine first to persuade the rest of the nation to do the same
The Government has been warned in recent days against the creation of a so-called vaccine passport for people who have had a Covid-19 vaccine.
New vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said jabs will not be compulsory but added hospitality and entertainment venues might insist on seeing proof that customers have had one.
But Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, later insisted that there are no Government plans for such a passport.
Speaking in the Commons this afternoon, Sir Desmond said 'suppression in anticipation of vaccination' was the reason behind the Government's new tier restrictions.
Addressing the suggestion of a vaccine passport, Sir Desmond said: 'That would be absolutely disproportionate to a virus with a mortality rate of verging on one per cent.
'It'd equally be a terrible precedent to set for other vaccines and medicines so I hope we can get away from that.
'The way to persuade people to have a vaccine is to line up the entire Government and its ministers and their loved ones and let them take it first, and then get all the luvvies, the icons of popular culture out on the airwaves singing its praises.
'To have any kind of suggestion of coercion absolutely feeds the conspiracy theory that we're being cowed and our liberties are being taken away.'
Sir Desmond agreed with party colleague Steve Baker that it would be 'discrimination' to allow businesses to refuse people access unless they have had a Covid-19 vaccine.
Sir Desmond added: 'The other thing that any kind of coercion would do is set the seal on this Government's reputation as the most authoritarian since the Commonwealth of the 1650s.'