Eligible people who are not vaccinated against Covid and have no medical reason not to get the jab have been described as idiots by former prime minister Tony Blair.
Mr Blair also backed the Government in not imposing further Covid-19 restrictions before Christmas but described the decision as “incredibly difficult” and a “gamble”.
Speaking to Times Radio, the former Labour prime minister said: “Frankly, if you’re not vaccinated at the moment and you’re eligible and you’ve got no health reason for not being vaccinated, you’re not just irresponsible, I mean you’re an idiot.
“I’m sorry, I mean that is, truthfully you are. Because this Omicron variant is so contagious, if you’re unvaccinated and you’re in circulation, you’re going to get it. And … that is going to put a lot of strain on the health service.”
He added: “We shouldn’t target these people who are unvaccinated in a heavy-handed way, but we should be trying to go after them and persuade them.
“There may be all sorts of reasons, but honestly it is in their own interest, never mind the public interest, for them to get vaccinated.”
Blair answered “no” when asked if he would have introduced restrictions this Christmas, telling Times Radio this was not because “some great piece of data” would emerge, but because of the “pain” of a full lockdown, that people have “been through too much”, and because there are too many different categories of people when it comes to vaccination for the “blunt instrument of a lockdown really to work in the way that you want”.
Asked about the allegations of parties at No 10 Downing Street, Mr Blair said: “It’s not helpful.”
He said he did not want to get into the subject other than to say he has “a lot of sympathy for people who are working there”, but added “you have got to be careful particularly when what you do will have an impact on what other people do”.
He also said the decision to vaccinate people under the age of 12 should have been taken “some time ago”, adding “I don’t know what we’re waiting for”.