The UK in a Changing Europe director has spelt out how Britain’s eagerness to celebrate Brexit in the context of our successful Covid-19 vaccination programme has really rattled the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The EU has struggled to provide mass vaccinations for its citizens with the European vaccine rollout hit with shortages and low uptake. Professor Menon explained that the EU Commission has lashed out “crossly” at suggestions Britain did better as a result of Brexit.
Professor Menon told Channel 4 News: “I don’t think the substance is anything to do with Brexit.
“I think it is frankly wrong to claim we have got to where we are because we’d left the European Union.
“But I think Brexit matters in the sense that, on the one hand, our government was very keen to crow about its successes and put them in the context of Brexit.
“I think there is very little doubt that on the other hand, this got under the skin of Ursula von der Leyen in particular.”
He added Britain’s vaccine success had “made the commission just act a little bit crossly and therefore without thinking things through particularly well.”
Von der Leyen is under increasing pressure to accelerate the EU’s stalling vaccination rate.
Professor Menon said: “The European Commission is in a very dangerous position, we can talk about whether they have made mistakes, I think they did probably make some mistakes in their approach to vaccine purchases.
“But the fact of the matter is having taken the decision to do this collectively via the European Commission, the commission is in a very vulnerable position of it looks like the rollout doesn’t go well.”
It comes as Britain is said to be offering the Republic of Ireland 3.7 million coronavirus vaccines, according to the Sunday Times.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have talked privately in a bid to ensure no cross-border transmission takes place.
It would mark the first time the UK had shipped vaccines to an EU nation, with one cabinet minister describing it as “a poke in the eye to Brussels”.
Another told the paper: “It is a balancing act, making sure that we have enough vaccines to give the UK’s adult population the second dose.
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“Easter will be when we might be able to start offering vaccines to Ireland.”
The UK has administered more than 33.02 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with 30,151,287 million being first doses.
Yesterday saw the UK record 3,862 cases and 19 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has recorded 4,333,042 cases and 126,592 deaths.