John Swinney defends need for continued coronavirus lockdown
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Britain is currently well ahead of EU member states in delivering coronavirus jabs with Brussels being hit by major supply problems. Rather than EU members purchasing vaccines individually they agreed to give this job to the European Commission, but not enough of the right vaccines were purchased prompting outcry across the continent.
On Sunday Mr Verhofstadt, formerly the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, tweeted a video in which he described the EU’s procurement system as a “fiasco”.
The UK has already vaccinated over 15 adults per 100 eligible citizens.
The comparable figures for France and Germany are 4.5 and 5.2 respectively.
Writing for the Telegraph Alexandra Phillips, a former Brexit Party MEP, hit out at the lack of accountability within the EU.
She wrote: “Verhofstadt’s is the only voice on the inside that has come out to criticise the Commission’s blinding ineptitude.
“The echoes of silence, and the ripples of spin from the pro-European ranks over the vaccine failure are astonishing.
“Some Remainer commentators are even arguing that the UK’s success is an illusion, pointing out that we are, in fact, lagging behind some countries in Europe in terms of second doses.
“Europhiles have also suggested that Britain’s vaccine programme, far from being a triumph, is potentially a gamble – from Macron’s statement that the AstraZeneca vaccine may be ‘quasi-ineffective’ for over-65s, despite the EU approving it for the bloc.
“All this smacks of something deep-rooted and disturbing.
“An ever-centralised European superstate that sympathisers can’t bear to criticise, even in the face of absolute failure.”
The European Commission didn’t order the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine until three months after the UK, according to the pharmaceutical company’s chief executive.
Last month the EU threatened to impose export controls and a border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in a bid to stop vaccines leaving.
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The move sparked fury in London, Dublin and Belfast leading to it being abandoned.
In Mr Verofstadt’s video he commented: “A fiasco I call it. And a fiasco it is.
“Well after nearly two months the roll out of vaccines is dramatically low in Europe.
“On average not more than four percent of European citizens received a first dose.
“And in most countries the vaccination came nearly to a halt over the last days.
“This dramatic slow pace is in stark contrast with our production capacity of vaccines.
“There is a crucial lack of supply in every European member state, a lack that we don’t see in the same dramatic proportions in countries like the United States, Britain, Canada or Israel.”
There is anger amongst Northern Irish unionists about new trade restrictions with the rest of the UK, introduced as a result of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
DUP leader Arlene Foster is urging the Prime Minister to withdraw from the Northern Ireland protocol in response.
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