UK should ‘calm down’ on vaccine rollout says Martin
Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin has hit out at the UK amid the ongoing row after Brussels threatened to block vaccines entering the country. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Mr Martin ordered the UK to “just calm down” and “dial down the tone”. In a stunning swipe, the Irish leader also laid the blame for the ongoing spat with the British–Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, adding: “What’s gone wrong here is that AstraZeneca is not delivering.”
Mr Martin said: “If we could dial down the tone and work collegially, that is the best way to deal with this.
“If we can just calm down, all of us, there is an understandable race against time to get the vaccines out. There is a lot of understandable anxiety.”
This follows growing outrage in the UK at the EU’s decision to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The EU was forced into a humiliating U-turn as it withdrew its plans to block the export of doses to Northern Ireland, following swift condemnation from both Ireland and the UK.
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DUP leader Arlene Foster branded the Brussels move an “act of hostility”.
However, Mr Martin pleaded for calm as he sought to downplay the crisis: “It took four years to put this together.
“We are only four weeks into the agreement and the protocol.
“There are bound to be teething problems. It was not an act of hostility.”
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He denied Mr Marr’s suggestions that the EU intended to halt the arrival of Pfizer vaccines into the UK.
The Taoiseach explained: “The point of this was transparency in terms of the relationship between AstraZeneca and the European Commission.
“The Commission took the wrong mechanism to deal with it by invoking Article 16 but there is still an issue.”
Mr Martin also suggested the UK could give some of their supply to Europe.
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Pro-Brexit MPs are understood to be discussing ways in which the UK can take advantage of the chaos in Brussels.
Sky News’ Rob Powell commented that leading eurosceptics such as Mark Francois MP and former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers are sensing that EU bosses are on the “back foot”.
The EU has struggled to handle growing discontent over the bloc’s crisis-hit vaccine disruption programme.
Earlier this week, Nigel Farage urged Boris Johnson to use this “phenomenal opportunity” to improve his Brexit deal by bailing out Brussels after its vaccine failures.
The lifelong eurosceptic told this website: “Despite all the appalling ways in which they are behaving, the UK is in a relatively fortunate position that has more vaccine than it can use.
“Not necessarily in a boastful way, but we should use this to our national advantage.”
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