During the historic Brexit referendum in June 2016, the UK voted by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, with Britain completing its full departure from the bloc following the end of the transition period on December 31. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has basked in the glory of being free from the Brussels’ shackles, insisting Britain will quickly thrive and flourish in the years outside the EU. The UK has also received widespread praise for quickly buying tens of millions of vaccines from leading drugs makers and the speed at which the population of 67 million are receiving their jabs, with every adult on course to receive their first dose by July 31.
In contrast, the vaccine rollout throughout the EU has been disastrous, leaving the bloc trailing far behind several other nations – including the departing UK – in terms of the number and proportion of people to receive a vaccine.
On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to block the export of coronavirus vaccines to the UK, criticising AstraZeneca for having “underproduced and underdelivered” to the bloc.
Several major EU nations are now warning that the resulting shortage of vaccine could quickly see them battling a third wave of COVID-19 – leaving hundreds of millions of people in a perilous position.
Charles-Henri Gallois, president of the Generation Frexit movement in France, fumed: “If there’s a flagrant example of the uselessness and harmfulness of the European Union, it’s indeed the management of the COVID-19 crisis.
“This applies even more so across the Channel where people are correctly saying that the vaccine episode constitutes the best publicity possible in favour of Brexit.
“Numerous tweets from Remainer voters (those previously in favour of remaining in the EU) say they regret voting to remain and no longer wish to be part of the EU.”
Mr Gallois also launched a scathing attack against the EU, claiming the bloc has shown itself to “indeed be the virus and not the vaccine”.
But he lavished praise on the UK, claiming Brexit has already shown the nation to be “infinitely more efficient” as a “free and independent country” as it looks on from across the Channel at the vaccine fiasco engulfing the bloc.
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“The United Kingdom on the other hand will show that a free and independent country, able to defend its interests, is infinitely more efficient.
He added: “The vaccine episode bears this out as will its aftermath. The United Kingdom has taken back control.
“Don’t be mistaken, the EU and its ideology are an impediment and in no way a solution.
“French people must also take back control by conducting a referendum on EU membership, as the British did.
“Democracy demands this. Let’s take back control!”
On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Mr Johnson poured cold water over the threat from the EU to ban exports of Covid vaccines to the country in n order to safeguard scarce doses for its own citizens.
He told a news conference at Downing Street: “I think that people should be under no anxiety or misapprehension about that.
“Whatever you may hear about the pressures that different countries are under to deliver vaccines for their public, these vaccines are a multi-national effort and they are produced as the result of international cooperation and we in the UK will continue to view it in that spirit.”