Confusion over ID cards as Johnson mulls their future

By staff

Confusion reigned over the government’s proposed ID cards scheme today, as contradictory reports emerged about whether the new home secretary will push ahead with them.

Alan Johnson, who is understood to be more sympathetic to civil liberties concerns than his predecessors, has ordered a review of the scheme, starting with ‘first principles’.

But briefings to the Guardian over the weekend poured cold water on any suggestion of the cards being scraped any time soon.

Aides to Mr Johnson told the newspaper that despite being privately sceptical about the scheme, he would allow the current timetable to go ahead.

That means a continuation of the pilot scheme among airport workers at Manchester and City of London airports, with the cards becoming part of the official documents workers must carry.

But because a further vote on the cards will be required before any sort of compulsory national system is put in place, Mr Johnson appears likely to allow this bare minimum of procedures to go ahead, while letting the cards die a slow death in the run-up to the election.