‘Vaccine nationalism is wrong way to go’ says Nadhim Zahawi
Brendan Clarke-Smith, 40, was given the dose after spending an afternoon volunteering at his local hospital. The MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire claimed he was inoculated at the end of his shift with a leftover vaccine, which would have been binned if no one had stepped forward to receive it.
Alan Rhodes, Labour leader at Nottinghamshire County Council, said the act was “unforgivable”.
He tweeted: “Shameful queue jumping by the Bassetlaw Conservative MP, putting himself before his elderly and vulnerable constituents.
“This is something that Bassetlaw voters should not forget or forgive.”
Under the Government’s vaccination programme, jabs are limited to priority groups.
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These include the over 80s, over 70s, people classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers.
The decision by Mr Clarke-Smith, who contracted Covid in March, was described as “idiotic” by sources in Whitehall.
Simon Greaves, Labour leader for Bassetlaw District Council, hit out at the lawmaker’s move, pointing to the thousands of constituents who remain on the vaccine waiting list.
He tweeted: “Yesterday a 40yr old man volunteered at a local COVID-1 vaccination centre.
“The man was vaccinated despite thousands of local people on the Govt’s priority list still waiting anxiously and patiently.
“The man was the new Conservative MP for Bassetlaw.”
Social media users were quick to give their take on the row, with many adding to the criticism.
One man said: “I am 72 years old. As a minister, I’m a key worker – one of my roles being to bury the dead.
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“As such, I could ask to be vaccinated with the over 80s in my town next week. I will not.
“There are people more vulnerable than I. One of them is not the MP for Bassetlaw.”
However, despite the flurry of criticism, some people said they would feel safer if those administering the jab had first been given it themselves.
Mr Clarke-Smith stood by his decision to be vaccinated by a fellow volunteer.
He said: “I have just started volunteering at a local vaccination centre in my constituency.
“At the end of the day of volunteering there were some leftover vaccinations and rather than letting them go to waste they offered me a vaccination so I don’t put people at risk while continuing to volunteer.”
On Friday he posted a photo of himself being jabbed on Facebook.
He wrote: “Some have suggested that politicians should test them out first – although they are usually the same people who then say politicians get preferential treatment, so I suppose it’s difficult to win!”
Meanwhile, fellow Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi has revealed his uncle passed away from the virus while waiting for a coronavirus vaccine.
During an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, the vaccine minister was pressed on the Government’s efforts to combat the pandemic as UK death surpassed 100,000.
He said: “I lost my uncle last week to Covid.”
He added: “It is grim and horrible but our way out of this is the vaccination programme and it makes me angry but it makes me determined to make sure we vaccinate the most vulnerable people in our country, protect them as quickly as possible and then protect the whole nation.”
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