Brexit justified: Britons say UK handled pandemic better than EU in 'first big test'

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The positive sentiment was further compounded by a huge backing for the UK’s vaccine programme, as nearly seven in 10 respondents said the initiative by far trumped the efforts of the bloc to inoculate citizens. The release of the latest polling data comes as Europe braces for a third wave of Covid and millions more are sent into lockdown.

Ipsos MORI carried out the survey showing a healthy backing for Boris Johnson’s handling of the public health crisis, which hit just weeks after the UK left the EU in January 2020.

Asked how they thought the UK and the EU responded to the epidemic, 36 percent said Britain had fared better ahead of 32 percent who said the trade bloc.

Twenty-three percent of those polled said the EU and its former member state had handled the challenge equally well.

There was a much more stark contrast between the answers when it came to Covid vaccines.

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The UK is powering ahead with its vaccine rollout programme (Image: GETTY)

Sixty-seven percent said the UK had performed the best on the vaccine front, while only 12 percent said the same for the EU.

However, Britons appeared far more sceptical of how leaders in the UK had handled lockdowns.

Mr Johnson was responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions in England, while the task in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fell to the devolved administrations.

Only 28 percent of Britons said they thought the UK had out-performed its European neighbours in this regard.

READ MORE: EU risks killing own citizens by blocking AstraZeneca jabs to UK

uk lockdown

The poll suggested the majority of Britons fell the UK could have handled lockdowns better (Image: GETTY)

Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) said lawmakers had dealt with lockdown in a much poorer manner than the EU.

Political scientist Matt Goodwin said the polling will be matter when it comes to arguments about whether Brexit was good or bad for the country.

He tweeted: “The political consequences of this will be big. Vaccines were the first big test that the UK state faced after Brexit.

“And as far as two-thirds of Brits are concerned it did better than the European Union. This will matter.”

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Boris Johnson receives his Covid vaccine (Image: GETTY)


Parisians were last week sent into a month-long lockdown (Image: GETTY)

The Prime Minister has won praise for rolling out the Covid vaccination programme in December ahead of Britain’s European neighbours.

On Monday it was reported the UK had seen its third consecutive day with a record number of jabs, as 844,285 people were injected in the previous 24 hours.

On Saturday, NHS England revealed during one hour vaccinators were completing 27 vaccines per second.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said. “In just one day we vaccinated the equivalent of the entire adult populations of Liverpool, Southampton and Oxford combined.”

Across the Channel, the EU is far from sailing smoothly with their programmes.

Coronavirus cases around the world

Coronavirus cases around the world (Image: EXPRESS)

Last week Brussels threatened to block batches of Covid vaccines from reaching Britain if AstraZeneca didn’t honour its contract and deliver ordered jabs to the continent.

On Monday UK care minister Helen Whately said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen should stick to a commitment not to block pharmaceutical companies from meeting the terms of contracts to supply vaccines.

Reports have suggested the latest focus of the row is on AstraZeneca vaccines produced in the Halix plant in the Netherlands, with officials arguing they should be kept for the EU rather than allowed to be exported to the UK.

Ms Whately told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What we’re hearing at the moment is some speculation, some conjecture, an element of rhetoric.


Europe is on the cusp of a third wave of Covid (Image: GETTY)

“But what is actually important is that the EU and no country should follow vaccine nationalism or vaccine protectionism.

“We expect the European Union to stick by their commitments and I’m sure the Prime Minister will be in contact with European counterparts – he speaks to European counterparts regularly – but I don’t think this debate is helpful to anybody.

The issue of vaccines and potential blockades is expected to be raised at a virtual summit on Thursday for European leaders.

Mr Johnson is expected to contact his EU counterparts beforehand to discuss the matters.

Government sources said Mr Johnson spoke to Ms von der Leyen, along with Dutch and Belgian prime ministers Mark Rutte and Alexander De Croo last week.

Ipsos Mori polled 2,385 British adults aged 16 and over online from March 12 to 15.

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