Home » Politics » EU shamed: Hunt claims trading bloc made ‘catastrophic misstep’ in triggering Article 16
EU shamed: Hunt claims trading bloc made ‘catastrophic misstep’ in triggering Article 16
February 1, 2021
EU made ‘catastrophic misstep’ over Article 16 U-turn says Hunt
Jeremy Hunt told LBC that he was relieved that the European Union reversed its decision on triggering the protocol. The Conservative MP insisted international collaboration and cooperation will be key during the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Hunt said: “I think the EU made a catastrophic misstep, but I’m very relieved it has been sorted out.
“The reality is, the battle this year, which realistically very few of us would have predicted a few months ago, is against new variants of the virus.
“We are in a race at the moment to see whether we can vaccinate enough people to get transmission really low and before we get a variant that is immune to the vaccine.
“The one thing you need in that context is international collaboration and cooperation because we don’t know where the next variant is going to come from.
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“So we’ve got to be working closely.”
The EU’s attempt to override the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland under its vaccine export controls has been labelled “foolish” by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
On Sunday Mr Blair told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge that “what the European Commission did was unacceptable”.
Ms Ridge: “The EU insisted on how important it was to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and yet just a couple of weeks after they sign the deal, they unilaterally create one without telling anyone.
EU were ‘foolish’ over Article 16 move says Tony Blair
“It’s pretty irresponsibly, isn’t it?”
Mr Blair replied: “Yes, it was a very foolish thing to do and fortunately they withdrew it very quickly.
“I was somebody who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement, it’s brought peace to the island of Ireland and it is absolutely vital that we protect it.
“That’s why what the European Commission did was unacceptable but, as you say, fortunately, they withdrew it very quickly.”
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Michael Gove confirmed on Saturday that the trading bloc had realised it had made a mistake.
The UK currently on track to vaccinate the 13 million most vulnerable people in the country by February 15.
The EU, by contrast, has only vaccinated around a fifth of what the UK has per capita.
When asked if the UK should consider giving away some of the vaccines that we have to other countries, Mr Blair said: “That’s only going to happen if we’ve got a surplus of vaccine.”