Ian Duncan Smith: The EU are behaving like bullies
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And the former Conservative Party leader, and committed Brexiteer, has branded the EU “an incompetent organisation full of self-doubt” in a withering takedown. Mr Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, believes eurocrats fear the efficiency with which the UK has set about inoculating its population indicates its newly-independent neighbour is set to thrive now that it has broken free.
According to the Our World In Data website, 33.2 million Britons had received at least one jab as of March 27 – vastly better than Germany as of March 26 (12.36 million), France (10.19 million) or Italy (9.21million) for example.
Mr Duncan Smith, writing in the Telegraph, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision for Britain to buy its own COVID-19 vaccines had been key.
He said: “It was a bold thing to do, and, considering most of the establishment was against him, brave.”
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader (Image: GETTY)
Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)
By contrast, the EU had insisted on a centralised approach to procurement.
Mr Duncan Smith added: “The EU’s failure to strike early, binding contracts with the vaccine companies has come back to haunt them. Unable to accept their failure, the Commission has tried to scapegoat the UK.
“First they first tried to close the European border with the UK, even invoking article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol. But shaken by the uproar that followed, they had to step back.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (Image: GETTY)
“Then, we had the embarrassing spectacle of Merkel and Macron falsely claiming that AstraZeneca’s vaccine isn’t effective in those over 60 – a claim which was retracted, but not quickly enough.”
By contrast, Britain had gone about its task effectively, with the result that it was now in a far better place with respect to the pandemic than the EU, Mr Duncan Smith pointed out.
Nor did the UK’s success end there, he continued.
He explained: “Quietly, we have been forging trade deals with more and more countries and now we’ve even set our sights on membership of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
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Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor (Image: GETTY)
Emmanuel Macron, France’s President (Image: GETTY)
“In line with this new global ambition, the Government plans to increase defence spending, and will even send Royal navy ships to the far east, including an aircraft carrier East of Suez, as a show of solidarity in the face of the growing threat from China.
“All this is the mark of a growing, nimble nation, finally at ease with itself.”
All of which was a far cry from the current situation across the Channel, the former Work and Pensions Secretary claimed.
He said: “From where I’m standing, the EU is looking more and more like an incompetent organisation full of self-doubt than a Leviathian threat to the UK.
Coronavirus vaccinations live (Image: Express)
“Small wonder that Bild, the German tabloid, had a recent headline – “We envy you Britain.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has said it is on track to hit the Government’s target of offering all over-50s and the clinically vulnerable their first vaccine by April 15.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that more than 30 million people have now had the jab across the UK – including 650,000 vaccinations delivered yesterday.
“The vaccine is saving lives and is our route out of this pandemic. I want to say a massive thanks to the team.
AstraZeneca’s jab was initially derided by EU leaders (Image: GETTY)
“When you get the call – get the jab.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “Vaccines save lives and are the best way out of this pandemic, so I urge everyone, regardless of race or religion, to come forward for the vaccine when it’s your turn.
“The NHS, GPs, pharmacists and volunteers will continue to do everything they can to vaccinate people as quickly as possible and I’m immensely proud of their tireless efforts to reach this milestone so quickly.”
The UK is expecting to receive its first shipment of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine next month.