Tony Blair slams ‘very foolish’ EU after Brussels’ vaccine threat to UK – ‘Unacceptable!’
EU were ‘foolish’ over Article 16 move says Tony Blair
Tony Blair issued a scathing assessment of the European Union, as the former Prime Minister branded the bloc “very foolish”. Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News, Mr Blair said “what the European Commission did was unacceptable”. This comes after EU triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol on Friday and moved to override the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland under its vaccine export controls.
The EU wanted to block vaccines entering the UK through “the back door” with checks at the border of the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Brussels quickly backtracked on the move following swift criticism from London, Dublin and Belfast.
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said: “The idea that we’d be triggering Article 16 for any reason, apart from some absolute and dramatic emergency, it shouldn’t have happened.”
Ms Ridge told Mr Blair: “You made Ireland central to your argument as to why we should stay in the EU.”
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The Sky News host continued: “The EU insisted on how important it was to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and yet just a couple of weeks after they sign the deal, they unilaterally create one without telling anyone.
“It’s pretty irresponsibly, isn’t it?”
Mr Blair responded: “Yes, it was a very foolish thing to do and fortunately they withdrew it very quickly.
“I was somebody who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement, it’s brought peace to the island of Ireland and it is absolutely vital that we protect it.
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“That’s why what the European Commission did was unacceptable but, as you say, fortunately they withdrew it very quickly.”
Mr Blair had been one of the most vocal supporters of the UK remaining in the EU during the Brexit debate.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove confirmed on Saturday that the EU had realised it was in the wrong.
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Mr Gove said the British Government expected vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and AstraZeneca to be supplied to the UK.
He added that it would work with the EU to “make sure that their own problems can be tackled”.
Britain is currently on track to vaccinate its 15 million most vulnerable residents by February 15.
The EU, by contrast, has fallen well behind and has only vaccinated around a fifth of what the UK has per capita
When asked if the UK should consider giving away some of the vaccines that we have to other countries, Mr Blair said: “That’s only going to happen if we’ve got a surplus of vaccine.”
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