A vaccine ban would essentially get Boris Johnson off the hook over coronavirus and Brexit.
Last week’s letters were full of debate about vaccine rates, but one thing is certain: if the EU does go ahead with its proposed vaccine export ban, it will essentially get Boris Johnson off the hook for both coronavirus and for Brexit.
A ban would certainly stop the UK vaccine programme dead but not significantly raise European vaccination rates. Johnson is currently high in the polls thanks to the “vaccine bounce” but if it stalls polls won’t come down as he will be able to deflect blame onto outside forces.
Any ban would be seized on by Leavers as proof the EU is driven by spiteful jealousy at a successful neighbour, that the EU is not a fair player, and that Leave was correct to say that Europe is hostile to the UK and determined to do it down.
The public won’t remember governmental delays and indecision that led to the lockdowns, only that the EU’s action prolonged them and ruined their summer.
A vaccine export ban will be a grave act of political self-harm that will knock the wind out of the pro-EU cause in Britain.
Discussions with my mates in France, Germany, Belgium and Austria reveal the basis for their country’s mistrust of the AstraZeneca vaccine (“What is Europe’s problem with the AZ jab?” TNE #236).
Basically, they don’t trust anything that emanates from the UK – or more specifically, England – any more. They don’t trust Boris Johnson and his ministers.
They abhor all the lying and attempts to subvert legal agreements. They are outraged by Brexit and the anti-EU rantings of most of the UK press. This mistrust transfers to the vaccine. They associate AZ with the UK, not Sweden because all the triumphalist noise about it comes from here.
Trust is a precious commodity. Once lost, it’s very difficult to regain. Global Britain, or global pariahs?
Whilst I applaud the UK’s vaccine success, it becomes increasingly irksome to see and hear this characterised as a UK triumph.
If Johnson’s claim of “global Britain” were anywhere near the mark, there would be no gloating over the relative success of the UK roll-out, and no use of the international comparisons he now sees as politically useful.
I recall such comparisons are not relevant when they show just how far ahead of other European countries’ the UK’s death toll is.
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