The UK Stands By Australia

Graham Charles Lear
6 min readMar 7, 2021

UK: 21 million and counting — more vaccinations than in 24 of the EU’s 27 countries combined

The EU’s vaccinations crisis has been dragging on, week after week, month after month. Far from showing any sign of improvement, it is getting worse, with exasperated EU countries deciding to go their own way. Meanwhile, Brexit Britain continues to surge ahead.

This week saw yet more public relations disasters for the EU Commission, as more countries decided to plough their own furrows and order vaccines by bypassing the EU’s procurement scheme.

EU countries now bypassing the EU’s vaccines procurement system

Austria

Czech Republic

Denmark

Hungary

Poland

Slovakia

“Total shit show,” says Angela’s deputy and Germany’s Vice-Chancellor

The rhetoric across the EU’s capitals is growing increasingly hostile. Where once were heard only the standard, pre-programmed statements of ‘unity’ and ‘solidarity’ for a combined EU approach to the Coronavirus, now the governments of EU member countries are not only going their own way, they are also starting to unleash almost unheard of criticisms against the Brussels mothership.

Last week none other than the EU-loving Financial Times reported German Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz as describing the EU’s vaccine fiasco as a “total shit show”.

The EU Commission still seem to be in denial, however. At the daily press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker actually said

“I think we have developed a successful vaccine strategy.”

Meanwhile, Brexit Britain has roared ahead of the EU, much to the annoyance of Rejoiners

There is no doubt that the EU Commission’s centralised control of the Coronavirus strategy across the EU — a power it seized last year — has been little short of a complete disaster. Back then the UK was still in the Transition Period and Remainer-Rejoiners in the UK were urging the Prime Minister to join the Commission’s collective programme.

Instead, Boris Johnson decided that the United Kingdom should start to exercise some independence and announced that the UK would go it alone.

In all the EU’s chaos, senior politicians in EU countries also bear some serious responsibility

It seems extraordinary now that some of the most senior politicians in EU countries — Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron in particular — have played such appallingly bad roles in this crisis. Frau Merkel will still not even take a vaccine herself, claiming to be less vulnerable than others despite her age. She also backed Germany’s medicine approvals agency and STIKA in declining to approve the British-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca jab for the over 65s. Last week this erroneous decision was finally overturned in Germany, but naturally, the damage was done and few in Germany now seem to want this vaccine.

France’s Emmanuel Macron went even further, describing the British-Swedish vaccine as being “quasi-ineffective” for the over-60s — precisely those who are at most risk. He too is now backtracking, but again the damage has already been done. France currently has the lowest take-up of vaccines in the whole of the EU.

The EU Commission continues to look for other parties to attack, for its own failures

As if the EU’s woes were not serious enough, last week the Commission also chose to encourage Italy to ban the export of a relatively small consignment of the British-Swedish vaccine which was destined for Australia. It did so under the legal cover of an ‘Implementing Regulation’ which the Commission rushed in at the end of January.

“Due to the urgency of the situation, justified by the lack of transparency in a time where the production and delivery of vaccines are still in the building-up phase and the ensuing temporary global shortage, the measure was adopted by the Commission using the emergency procedure.

“This allows the Commission to act fast before the Member States are formally consulted.”

  • EU Commission, 29 Jan 2021

In other words, the EU Commission decided this unilaterally and created EU law ‘on the hoof’.

This was the regulation that was used as the EU’s justification that evening to impose what amounted to a hard border on the island of Ireland by invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Commission did this in yet another demonstration of its determination to punish the UK in any way possible.

You just could not make this ship up, to be honest.

The protests from the UK and Irish Governments were immediate and very strong, and the Commission was forced to back down within hours. Nevertheless, once again the damage had been done — this time to the fragile peace in Northern Ireland, which is more important than the further damage it did to the now-tattered reputation of the EU Commission.

Now the Commission is using the same Implementing Regulation again, this time against Australia.

The UK government quickly moved to support its Commonwealth partner, Australia

To its credit, №10 moved fairly quickly to support Australia against the EU. According to lobby reports in the British press, the PM’s spokeswoman said.

“However, the PM spoke to President von der Leyen earlier this year, and she confirmed that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not intended to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.

“We would expect the EU to continue to stand by its commitments. The global recovery from Covid relies on international collaboration. We are all dependent on global supply chains, and putting in place restrictions endangers global efforts to fight the virus.”

Australia is now protesting the EU’s decision. It may interest the Australian Government to know that this vaccine export ban is the only one the EU has imposed. Over 100 exports of the German-US and other vaccines have been allowed. This ban relates only to the British-Swedish vaccine. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt might wish to make this point to the Commission and ask them why this is the case.

As I have said, you cant make this shit up

When the Vice-Chancellor of Germany chooses to use such colourful and emphatic language in his criticism of the EU’s behaviour and performance in handling the single most important crisis facing the EU in its history, you know that things are very bad indeed.

Other leaders have also expressed their feelings in terms never usually heard when the EU is being discussed. This has now been going on for so long that patience has clearly been exhausted. If the EU were a company, the future of its CEO and management team would now be under serious consideration by its major shareholders.

Just when the EU Commission thought things couldn’t get any worse, enter Lord Frost

Amongst all its troubles, the last thing the EU Commission needed was the entry of a robust individual taking over the running of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. That is precisely what happened on 02 March (2021) when Boris Johnson replaced Michael Gove with Lord Frost as Cabinet Office Minister and UK Chairman of the EU-UK Partnership Council.

OOPS Oh shit.

I am beginning to like that word shit, well the bloody Germans started it not me.

Today, less than a week into the job, Lord Frost has written an article for the Sunday Telegraph [paywalled]. In this piece, he writes of the opportunities ahead for Brexit Britain as it starts to exercise its sovereignty. He ends by saying.

“I hope they will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals.

“That is what I will be working towards, acting constructively when we can, standing up for our interests when we must — as a sovereign country in full control of our own destiny.”

There are now some encouraging signs that Lord Frost intends to adopt a more rigorous stance against the bullying, intimidatory behaviour and actions from the EU towards the United Kingdom. Oh shit, that spells even more trouble for the EU.

[ Sources: №10 | EU Commission | Reuters | European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) | European Medicines Agency (EMA) | World Health Organisation (WHO) | World in Data and country statistics | Sunday Telegraph ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.