Brexit: Vaccine model ‘benefit’ of leaving EU says Labour MP
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The Shadow Minister for Business explained Boris Johnson’s government was able to take a stronger role in getting the Covid vaccine off the ground while the European Union faces significant delays. Speaking to talkRADIO, Ms Powell said: “The vaccine model is one of the benefits of us having left the EU. I’m not one of those people by the way who believes that everything about being in the EU in great and being out of it is bad.
“I think being a member of the EU has costs and benefits and there are balances in that.
“I think one of the advantages of us being outside the EU is that we can be more nimble when it comes to things like the vaccine and we can take a stronger governmental role in producing the vaccine and getting it off the ground.
“That’s exactly the same argument I would make about steel and other British industry.
“One of the positives about leaving the EU is that we can support British business and British industry in a way that we haven’t been able to in the past.
“I want to see this Government doing that now because that’s what they said they would do.”
It comes as the European Union has been warned not to engage in “vaccine nationalism” over proposals to block exports of coronavirus jabs to the UK.
Care minister Helen Whately said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen should stick to a commitment not to block pharmaceutical companies from meeting the terms of contracts to supply vaccines.
Ms von der Leyen, who is under pressure over the EU’s relatively poor vaccine rollout, has ramped up the rhetoric this weekend, saying the EU has the power to “forbid” exports, adding: “That is the message to AstraZeneca.”
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The warning reflects growing frustration on the continent that the EU is not getting the supplies it expected from the British-Swedish manufacturer.
The Prime Minister is expected to contact his EU counterparts ahead of a virtual summit on Thursday where European leaders are due to consider the matter.
Government sources said Mr Johnson spoke to Ms von der Leyen, along with Dutch and Belgian prime ministers Mark Rutte and Alexander De Croo last week.
He may speak to other EU leaders over the coming days, the Government source added.
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Reports have suggested the latest focus of the row is on AstraZeneca vaccines produced in the Halix plant in the Netherlands, with officials arguing they should be kept for the EU rather than allowed to be exported to the UK.
Ms Whately told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What we’re hearing at the moment is some speculation, some conjecture, an element of rhetoric.
“But what is actually important is that the EU and no country should follow vaccine nationalism or vaccine protectionism.
“We expect the European Union to stick by their commitments and I’m sure the Prime Minister will be in contact with European counterparts – he speaks to European counterparts regularly – but I don’t think this debate is helpful to anybody.
“What matters is for all countries to be getting on and deploying and vaccinating their population.”
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