The roll-out of vaccinations is supposed to be a uniting effort globally. Instead, it’s turned into a geopolitical spat, with people’s lives on the line.
Brexit opened our eyes to see that the UK Government were right to pursue their own vaccine strategy, despite Labour calls to join the EU scheme. That which saw the EU pour an embarrassing amount of money into hopeless vaccines, such as the French/British-made Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline vaccine, proved fruitless.
Ursula von der Leyen made a case for Brexit better than Nigel Farage, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Michael Gove MP, Baroness Kate Hoey and Wetherspoons owner Tim Martin combined ever could.
Brexit supporters did not need to make a case for Brexit, the EU’s recent attacks on the UK’s vaccine supplies show the EU’s true colours, and given the recent shift in public opinion, the public may all be Brexiteers now. The nerve-shredding 5 hours when the EU publicly announced they intended to put a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland managed to unite the country, where even some of the most ardent Remainers called on the EU to back down.
The EU threatened to place a hard border in Ireland, colour me shocked – it’s disgraceful they would do this so liberally to punish the UK.
For the first time since the UK left the EU, almost the whole nation released a sigh of relief as if to say, “thank God we got out of there”. AstraZeneca (AZ) tried to supply as many countries as possible with their vaccine, honouring their contracts with its best reasonable efforts to get vaccines to EU countries.
But the EU kicked up a fuss, so how did we get here? The EU lagged behind on vaccines from the start, as seen in the graphs below. The UK have provided more first doses of vaccines of all EU countries and the EU as a whole.
The EU threw around many accusations as they waned concerning broken contracts, but as the arrangements have been published – we have seen that AZ fulfilled their obligations.
The UK made its vaccination programme one of the most successful globally, by not being afraid to take bets on multiple vaccine suppliers and pre-ordering earlier. In contrast, in-fighting within the EU lead to delay and pre-orders of still developing vaccines.
The UK ordered vaccines from AZ three months earlier and were approved by regulators a month earlier, the EU’s delay got them into their current state.
It’s a shame the EU thought they were entitled to the UK made vaccines. AZ’s contract with the United Kingdom specifies the vaccines which are made there are prioritised for the British public.
Whereas the EU made no such agreement, and they could be regretting it. The EU threatened to block vaccine exports to the UK, and the World Health Organisation condemned them for their threat. I’m sure we know who the real victim here, it is the EU citizens. They were left mostly without vaccines, with leaders of their nations stuck in an less than efficient scheme, and the inability to vote out the EU Commission President that got them there.
People may have forgotten that von der Leyen, unlike Johnson, President Joe Biden or many other world leaders was not elected by her citizens, effectively making her unaccountable.
In the UK, if I do not like the Prime Minister, I can vote against them, but EU citizens do not have this privilege.
With a failure of this proportion – the entire European project could be at stake. The ‘ever closer union’ has become more divided than ever with many countries trying to get around the EU’s vaccine scheme, leaving the so-called ‘independent’ nations unable to purchase their own vaccines.
As EU citizens see the UK vaccine numbers soar, their governments and electorate might rethink whether their payments to the EU are worth it.
George is a conservative councillor and deputy chairman of Dartford Conservatives. He co-founded the Young Conservative Network and has a career in financial technology. George has a passion for foreign affairs, particularly American politics and enjoys reading and walking his dogs.