BORIS Johnson has been urged to send over leftover Covid vaccines to the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said the UK could help “our neighbours in the Republic” by offering spare AtraZeneca jabs to the country.
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Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said the UK could help ‘our neighbours in the Republic’ by offering spare AtraZeneca jabs to the country[/caption]
Boris has been urged by Foster to send surplus vaccines to Ireland[/caption]
It comes after the EU invoked Article 16 on Friday stopping vaccines travelling from the bloc to the UK[/caption]
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, she said: “Because of their membership of the EU, they have not been able to access the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the way, I am sure, they would have liked to if they had been a sovereign country.”
The EU caused outrage on Friday when it invoked Article 16 which stopped vaccines travelling from the bloc into the UK.
The U-turn on Northern Ireland late on Friday night came after the Prime Minister expressed his “grave concern” to Ms von der Leyen, who also faced pressure from Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin.
The EU chief said she had agreed a “satisfactory way to introduce an export authorisation mechanism” for vaccines with Mr Martin, who was said to be furious about the initial move.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen also led calls for the UK to help the Republic but suggested that the EU may prevent vaccine-sharing between the countries.
Writing in the Pavlovik Today, he said it is “clearly in the UK’s interest to help the Republic of Ireland wherever we could as they are our closest neighbours and the only country with a land border”.
Ireland has a vaccination rate of three per cent, behind Northern Irlenad’s 10.4 per cent and the UK’s near 12%.
‘INCREDIBLE ACT OF HOSTILITY’
The 3.5million life-saving jabs ordered from a Pfizer BioNTech in Belgium will now enter the UK, Ursula von der Leyen said today.
The PM also condemned the act, which meant the bloc overrode part of the Brexit deal to effectively create a hard border in Ireland.
A No10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to EU Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen yesterday evening.
“He expressed his grave concerns about the potential impact which the steps the EU has taken today on vaccine exports could have.”
Foster branded it an “incredible act of hostility” and accused Brussels of playing politics with people’s lives.
“The European Union has once again shown it is prepared to use Northern Ireland when it suits their interests but in the most despicable manner – over the provision of a vaccine which is designed to save lives,” she said.
“At the first opportunity the EU has placed a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the supply chain of the Coronavirus vaccine.”
She said the EU had used Article 16 of the Brexit deal in an “aggressive and most shameful way” and “it is now time for our Government to step up”.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said this afternoon the EU “recognises they made a mistake” and “stepped back” following the conversation between the two leaders.
He said: “We’re confident, we have assurances, that the supply that we have procured, the supply that we have paid for, is going to be delivered.”
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The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier today called for “co-operation” between Brussels and the UK.
Mr Barnier told The Times: ‘We are facing an extraordinarily serious crisis, which is creating a lot of suffering, which is causing a lot of deaths in the UK, in France, in Germany, everywhere.
“And I believe we must face this crisis with responsibility, certainly not with the spirit of oneupmanship or unhealthy competition. I recommend preserving the spirit of co-operation between us.”