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EU panic: Thatcher's aide warned bloc wanted 'painful' Brexit as Croatia quit fears rose

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Brussels has been engulfed in a raging civil war, as member states turn on the European Commission – and its President Ursula von der Leyen – for the bloc’s poor handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout. Figures show that the EU has performed miserably when compared to nations such as the UK, with the bloc’s apparent slow uptake on approving jabs, and issues with production, plaguing their vaccine plans. The UK has administered around 44.7 vaccines per 100 citizens, while the EU lags behind on 12.9 jabs for every 100, recent data showed.

Reports suggest that as a result of its botched programme, euroscepticism is on the rise inside the bloc, particularly when envious glances are made to the UK.

The UK finally freed itself of the EU’s shackles, delivering on its Brexit mandate to the people to “take back control” of aspects including trade, laws and waters.

As the UK seemingly flourishes away from the bloc, it once appeared that the EU would ensure Britain suffered post-Brexit, in a move to ensure other nations don’t quit Brussels.

Robin Harris, who was an adviser to Mrs Thatcher and helped write the Conservative Party’s 1987 manifesto, argued that other countries would likely follow suit, particularly as they were concerned over how the EU could treat them.

EU panic: Thatcher's aide warned bloc wanted 'painful' Brexit as Croatia quit fears rose

EU panic: Thatcher’s aide warned bloc wanted ‘painful’ Brexit as Croatia quit fears rose (Image: GETTY)

European Union President Ursula von der Leyen is under pressure

European Union President Ursula von der Leyen is under pressure (Image: GETTY)

He spoke to Croatian publication The Dubrovnik Times, and addressed concerns that Croatia itself could quit.

Mr Harris noted that then-Prime Minister Theresa May had caused mayhem for Britain, while it negotiated its way out of the EU.

Mrs May famously saw her EU pact suffer a number of humiliating defeats, before she resigned in 2019, unable to get any deal she secured over the line in Parliament.

Speaking before Mrs May quit Downing Street, Mr Harris said: “European Union leaders, such as Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, are not aiming to reach a good deal with the UK but to show other EU members that it will be very painful if they choose to leave the EU and reject what Brussels wants.

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Margaret Thatcher during her reign

Margaret Thatcher during her reign (Image: GETTY)

“I am sure Margaret Thatcher, who was very realistic, would have been prepared to leave without a deal from the very beginning, unlike Theresa May, who just lost time and in fact has proved absolutely useless.

“In my opinion, she is the worst British Prime Minister in the history of Great Britain.

“It is sad that we have such a leader in this crisis, it is extremely bad for the UK and the country’s reputation.”

When quizzed about the possibility of Croatia also quitting, Mr Harris noted that the interests of both Zagreb, and the UK, were “not the same inside the EU”, and that Britons “realised that the direction the bloc was taking was not in their interest”.

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Coronavirus: Rollout in the EU has been criticised

Coronavirus: Rollout in the EU has been criticised (Image: GETTY)

He added: “Your Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, who is more enthusiastic about the European Union than me and probably most Croatians, said that it was not good for some members to leave the European Union.

“He was completely right.”

Croatia joined the EU in 2013, while the bloc was still reeling from the financial crash five years before.

At the time, journalist and EU insider Ines Sabalic suggested for Unherd.com two years ago, the “electorate was already showing signs of scepticism”.

She detailed how only half of registered voters actually turned out for the referendum on whether Croatia should join the EU, meaning “only 37 percent of the total population actively voted to join”.

How Brexit was covered by Daily Express

How Brexit was covered by Daily Express (Image: EXPRESS)

The writer also referred to data from the Eurobarometer polls that showed in the European elections of 2019, only 17 percent of people would opt to vote, compared to the 35 percent average of the EU.

She added: “The poll also suggested that, if a referendum on leaving the EU were to be held tomorrow, only 52 percent of Croats would vote to remain.”

Croatia has suffered increased difficulties regarding coronavirus, which could ramp up anti-EU sentiment.

Reports last month showed Croatia was the second worse nation in the EU to rollout jabs to its citizens with just 5.89 vaccines administered per 100 people in the second week of March.

The bloc had previously vowed to spend huge amounts on helping fund a vaccine, yet once again it was left behind the UK and US.

According to a report by scientific data company Airfinity, the UK spent £25 per person on early COVID-19 research, committing around £1.67billion to vaccines before knowing their effectiveness.

The US offered £7.9billion, at a rate of £24.02 per person, while the EU lagged behind again, spending just £3.51 per citizen, with an investment of £1.57billion.



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