Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021

‘Never underestimate the British!’ EU mocked over bitter vaccine ‘revenge’ plot

UK vaccine success ‘got under skin’ of von der Leyen says expert

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A senior UK minister has suggested a combination of the fury over Brexit and the proximity of elections in France and Germany – the EU’s two most powerful member states – was driving the vaccine war with the UK. The minister, who deals with counterparts in the EU each week, told the Sunday Express he believed this was the case after conversations with European politicians.The senior UK official told the newspaper: “We underestimate in the UK to what extent Brexit was a humiliation for the EU.

“It as a very difficult thing for them to deal with. This is an organisation that has always expanded and brought more people in and for the first time to have your second biggest net contributor essentially leave the club is a problem. It’s quite traumatic.”

The minister added: “I think they are alarmed at the speed of the trade deals coming into the UK.

“One of the most revealing things that has been said was when Ursula von der Leyen said the UK was like a speed boat and the EU was like a supertanker.

“What was extraordinary about that was it was exactly the sort of metaphor the Prime Minister would come up with. It summed up the frustration they feel.”

Express readers have launched a stunning attack against the EU as the war of words over vaccines continues to spill over.

Responding to our original story, one Express.co.uk reader said: “It takes the EU YEARS to agree a single trade deal. Here’s laughing at them.”

A second person wrote: “Personally, I’d feel EMBARRASSED to be an EU citizen and colonial member.

“Soooo glad we are free of a foreign unelected, unaccountable administration.

“God save the Queen. Rule Britannia.

Another Express.co.uk reader commented: “Our leaving has greatly weakened the EU. I expect more and more infighting over money and power and if we continue to thrive more will follow.”

A fourth person quoted a former Russian President, and added: “Gorbachev said ‘Never underestimate the British. They are clever devils’.”

The minister said the proximity of elections in France and Germany could be a key driver in the vaccine war with the UK.

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He added: “I think a lot of this is driven by the electoral cycle in the EU.

“We have got crunch German elections coming up in September.

“The [ruling party] CDU has done very badly in local elections and state level elections.

“[European Commission President] Ursula von der Leyen is principally a CDU political animal so there is widespread anger about their perceived failure to deal with the vaccine rollout.

“There’s a whole lot of political stuff going on that is for domestic consumption.

“[French President Emmanuel] Macron is in a similar position where he will be facing the electorate in about a year’s time for the Presidency.

“There’s all that political stuff which we are not particularly sighted on but I am sure it is part of the context for them doing what they are doing and saying what they are saying.”

Last Friday, the EU agreed to a proposal to enable the European Commission to press ahead and impose export bans.

The came despite opposition from member states including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as criticism of a “vaccine war” from former European Commission President and Brexit critic Jean-Claude Juncker, who urged the EU to remember its special relationship with the UK.

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