Macron and Merkel ‘created doubt’ over AZ jab says Redwood
EU leaders have refused to back European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s plans for tougher export controls amid fears of sparking a vaccine trade war. But Mr Macron reinforced his contempt for the UK by backing the proposal, stating it was “the end of naivety” and time to “block all exports”. It came following a spat between the bloc and drugmaker AstraZeneca over supplying vaccines to the UK before the EU, as many European countries are experiencing a surge in infections.
But former British Army officer and defence advisor to the Government Nicholas Drummond says the French President has “done a lot of damage” with his actions over the past few months.
He said: “I think Europe has got a lot of problems at the moment and it needs to find its mojo.
“Macron’s behaviour towards the UK before Christmas, when he held us to ransom, was utterly disgraceful.
“France treated us like an enemy, not like an ally.
Emmanuel Macron called for an export ban on vaccines
France closed its borders to the UK
“That will seriously affect the UK attitude towards France until Macron is gone – long term they remain a key partner.
“I think Macron has done a huge amount of damage.”
In December, Paris announced that all passenger and human-handled freight transport from the UK to France would be suspended in response to the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19.
It had a “devastating effect” on the supply of food and other consumer goods coming to Britain.
In February, Mr Macron said the AstraZeneca vaccine was “almost ineffective” in the over-65s and his Europe minister accused the UK of taking “massive risks” by depending too heavily on its home-grown jab.
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The UK has enjoyed a successful vaccine rollout thus far
Experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) quickly cleared up the claims, adding that the vaccine was effective “in persons aged 65 years and older”.
Just one month later, Mr Macron joined several other EU nations in suspending the roll-out of the vaccine over fears it caused blood clots.
But both UK and EU regulators later confirmed there was “no evidence” that the vaccine caused blood clots.
It was estimated at the start of March that France had used just 25 percent of the vaccines received from AstraZeneca, but now the producer must “catch up” on its promised deliveries to the bloc, according to Ms von der Leyen.
Mr Drummond believes a lot of damage has already been done.
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Ursula von der Leyen has been critical of AstraZeneca
He added: “The vaccine spat has added fuel to the fire and von der Leyen has not helped.
“The EU has really made a fool of itself over that. If it becomes a tyrant that suddenly ignores commercial contracts then the whole concept of economic union crumbles.
“People will not want to do business in or around the EU.
“The next time there is a crisis like this they will be really stuck.
“There’s a lot of questions to answer there and it certainly vindicates our decision to leave in the short-term.”
The UK continues its fight against COVID-19
The UK and the EU have said they are working together to improve their relationship after weeks of tensions.
In a joint statement, they said they wanted to “create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all”.
This week, 2Mr Macron called in the army to speed up the vaccination campaign after declaring to apply “very strong pressure” on AstraZeneca to ensure the EU received more jabs.
He promised an acceleration of jabs in April as supplies grew and announced that everyone 70 and over would be entitled to a dose from this weekend, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The French President has come under fire
But Mr Drummond believes there could be a growing sense of anger towards the French President coming from within his own borders.
He added: “I don’t think there are calls for him to stand down coming from within France, but he’s not very popular.
“They don’t have a clear alternative, though.
“He could even get re-elected, which would not be good for Anglo-Franco relations.”