Blair Blames Brexit… for EU Vaccine Fiasco

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 21: Tony Blair, Former Prime Ministe attends the Global Citizen Forum - Beyond Boundaries Event at the annual 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 21, 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo by Remy Steiner/Getty Images for Global Citizen Forum)
Remy Steiner/Getty Images for Global Citizen Forum

Vaccine passport proponent and ardent Remainer Tony Blair has blamed Brexit for the EU’s vaccine woes, claiming that had not Britain left, the bloc would not be “ten weeks behind” in inoculating hundreds of millions of people.

The UK was able to take advantage of its independence from Brussels bureaucracy by launching its own vaccine procurement programmes, while the European Commission insisted on controlling contracts with drugs companies itself, on behalf of the whole bloc. In the case of AstraZeneca, the drugs firm said it signed a contract with Britain some three months before the EU, which had a knock-on effect on vaccine production at European plants.

According to Our World in Data, as of March 8th, 35.02 people per 100 have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, compared to just 9.64 per 100 on average across the whole EU.

Speaking to Austrian weekly news magazine Profil, former Prime Minister Blair was forced to acknowledge that “Britain did an extremely good job on this one. First, a small vaccination task force was entrusted with the procurement of the vaccines. Then we were able to start vaccinating quickly and widely thanks to the centrally controlled public health service NHS.”

The prodigiously pro-Brussels, anti-Brexit Mr Blair went on to say that “the EU was less successful in comparison.”

The former prime minister was, however, reticent to credit Brexit for the UK’s inoculation progress, saying only that “the Brexit fans are now showing off the vaccination success.”

“You know that I am an avowed opponent of Brexit. It is and will remain a terrible strategic mistake for my country,” Blair said.

He then made the claim that “we could have done all of this within the EU. Conversely, I find it rather interesting what the EU is missing out on because Great Britain is no longer a member of the EU.”

Asked to clarify what he meant by that assertion, Blair implied that only Britain could have saved the EU from itself, acting to block the powerful executive arm, led by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from taking over vaccine procurement.

“If we British were still in the EU, the procurement of the vaccine would not have been taken out of the hands of the nation-states. Any British government would have insisted on that.

“That is the only reason why Europe is now ten weeks behind,” he said, in what appears to be an admission he believed the remaining 27 European nations could not adequately defend themselves against Brussels and demand their own vaccine autonomy.

Blair, who urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lead the world in the push for a global vaccine passport system, predicted that “there will be some kind of certificate for sure” adding that he thought it would be “best if the whole world could agree on such a vaccination certificate”.

He dismissed concerns over discrimination against those who are not vaccinated and therefore not certified immune, claiming it would be “impossible to hold large events, concerts or football matches” without them.

Despite Britain’s success, Blair claimed that “you shouldn’t manage pandemics nationally”, saying instead nations should coordinate with “the whole world”, notably on “how we distribute the vaccine to everyone”.

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