UK ‘shouldn’t let’ EU ‘off the hook’ says Richard Tice
Richard Tice explained it was a moment for the UK to strike while the iron is hot and “embarrass” the EU by offering vaccine doses to the Republic of Ireland. He believed it would allow the UK to secure “negotiation leverage” against a country which was staunchly against Brexit and show up the bloc’s failures. But Julia Hartley-Brewer was not as compassionate and believed the EU had made its bed and should sleep in it.
Speaking on talkRADIO, Mr Tice said: “This is a moment of leverage we can use against the European Union, they’re on the backfoot, we shouldn’t let them get away with this, we’ve got to sort out some issues between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to do with the Protocol and we shouldn’t let that pass.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer added: “I think a lot of people will want to show goodwill and we have a close affinity with the Republic of Ireland, we effectively have an open border.
“But I have to say given that the Irish Government spent the last few years trying to stop the enactment of a democratic vote of the UK, and they’re happy to battle against us.
“I don’t want the Irish people to pay the penalty for that but I am not inclined to give away vaccines.
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“Once we have completely spare vaccine supply, like everyone in the country who is over 18 has been offered the vaccine and chosen to take it or not take it, then maybe.
“But I don’t want to save the EU and the Irish from themselves. “
She added: “There’s an element there where they should live with the consequences of the choices they have made and I’d rather give the vaccine to poorer Commonwealth countries and their older people.”
The Reform Party politician responded: “I understand where you are coming from Julia but I do think we’ve got a real moment of negotiation leverage and we should maximise it.
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“We shouldn’t let (the EU) off the hook and on the one hand, we can be generous with the vaccine when we’ve vaccinated the over 50s and everyone at risk in the UK and help the citizens of the Republic of Ireland in the sense that will, of course, embarrass the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
“But at the same time we’ve got to use this to sort out some of the flaws in the free-trade deal, which are there, this is our moment and the Government has to have the strength and the confidence to go for it.”
The EU caused headaches for Britain and Northern Ireland last weekend when they triggered Article 16 which would change the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The move was in response to pharmaceutical companies not fulfilling EU vaccination contracts leading to plans for a vaccine export ban on jabs developed on the continent.
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However, since the Northern Ireland Protocol negates the need for a “hard border” between the Northern and Republic of Ireland, Article 16 was triggered to change that.
The move was quickly U-turned and Northern Ireland remains part of the EU’s Customs Union which allows goods to freely move between them and the EU.
Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has been at the centre of the row as they are blamed for prioritising countries like the UK.
They say it is because the UK secured contracts earlier than Europe and have pledged an extra nine million doses to the EU.
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