A SENIOR SNP MP has criticised his party leader for ‘announcing policy on Twitter’ before discussing it with MPs.

Alyn Smith, SNP MP for Stirling and the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said he was concerned at remarks made by Ian Blackford about his party’s intentions to vote on Coronavirus passports in England, should they come before the Commons, given there were no such proposals on the table.

Mr Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader told The Telegraph last night that the SNP was considering supporting such plans provided they included people’s negative test results.

He said: "Obviously we’re keen to take steps to get back to normality, but in a way that is inclusive. We would look constructively on any proposals that would help us get there, including Covid status checks."

However on social media this afternoon Mr Blackford announced his party would not be supporting the government’s plans for Covid passports in their current form, apparently contradicting his remarks last night.

HeraldScotland: Ian Blackford has written to leaders of the other Westminster opposition parties

He wrote: “The UK government hasn’t published any firm proposals on Covid certificates, and the Tory position has been mired in confusion and contradiction.

“On the basis of the information available, SNP MPs would not support Tory plans due to serious concerns over ethics.”

Alyn Smith, SNP MP, said that there had been no discussion on the issue within the SNP Westminster group, as there had been no proposals brought forward by the UK Government and at this stage it was “speculation” given there is no information on the proposals, or whether MPs will be required to vote on them.  

HeraldScotland: Alyn Smith says the first motion often sets the tone for the rest of conference

He told The Herald: “We should not be hearing about the policy of the SNP Westminster group on Twitter.

“This also seems like speculation. There are no actual proposals before us so I think it's irresponsible for us to give them credence when they've not actually brought anything forward.

“We will discuss within the group and we'll always discuss with Scottish government colleagues as well. But we cannot do that on the basis of actual proposals, none of which have come forward.”

READ MORE: Immunity passports could play 'important, temporary role' for international travel

Despite any measures on vaccine passports from Westminster only being applicable in England, Scottish MPs from across the political spectrum are preparing to vote on the measures on the basis that they would impact Scots too.

The Scottish Government is yet to set out if it would adopt similar measures, although health secretary Jeane Freeman said a digital certificate was being consdiered by officials.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs have confirmed they would be voting against the plans, while Labour MP Ian Murray would also be voting against them based on the details released by the Government so far.

The Scottish Conservatives said if the vaccine passports were for international travel and if they were to be used across the four nations of the UK then they would be participating in a vote, adding that if it was England-only they would likely not.

READ MORE: Digital vaccine passports being considered by Holyrood as PM launches mass testing 

Boris Johnson is yet to set out exactly what any vaccine passport scheme would look like, or where it would be required.

He suggested earlier this week that it is likely they would be needed for international travel, and a UK Government review paper published on Monday added further evidence that some form of immunity certificate will be required in future.

The review states: “Certification has already become a feature of international travel, with the UK and many other countries requiring evidence of a negative test predeparture as part of their border regimes.

“The Government expects such requirements to continue and is exploring ways of making certification of testing more digital and integrated - as well as considering the implications of vaccines and what certification may be required around them.”

READ MORE: More than 70 MPs and peers sign pledge against Covid vaccine passports

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, said Mr Blackford had “misjudged the mood of his own party”.

HeraldScotland: Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael

He said: “The difficulty for Mr Blackford is that all these things that he is saying today to justify not supporting the measures were also available yesterday when he said he was intending to support it. He has misjudged the mood of his own party and is now trying to avoid a row.”

The MP added that he was fundamentally opposed to the introduction of any coronavirus status certificates, saying: "This hands a lot of power to the government to tell me where I can go, who I can go with and I don’t think that’s how this country should be governed. That is a fundamental objection for me. There are issues with the practicalities also.

“As with the ID card scheme you had with Labour, it will have to come with a register, It will be expensive, it will be vulnerable to hacking and it will actually only serve to exclude those who have already taken the biggest hit, predominantly young people.

“It would exclude elderly people who are more likely to be digitally excluded, and the young people who are medically excluded – who are not yet vaccinated. If it comes in after everyone is vaccinated, then it’s pointless and there would be no need for it.”