Vaccine: Half of all adults in the UK now given first dosage
Political tensions have risen in Northern Ireland, with the pro-British unionist community unhappy about new barriers to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom that have arisen since Brexit fully took effect on January 1. “We’re in a difficult place but we are equal partners and we will have to sit down, hopefully, as you suggest, reduce the temperature and find solutions because business knows no borders, the business people in Northern Ireland want a solution,” Ms McGuinness said in an interview on the BBC. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Britons believe the UK’s coronavirus pandemic response is better than that of the EU, with four in ten thinking it was actually boosted by Brexit, a new poll has suggested.
The Ipsos Mori survey comes at a time when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is under intense pressure for her handling of the situation. Of those surveyed, 40 percent believed the UK’s decision to quit the bloc had helped its response. By contrast, just 14 percent felt Brexit had made the situation worse.
Additionally, 67 percent believed Britain had handled vaccination programmes better than the EU.
More Leavers (83 percent) felt this way – but even 65 percent of Remainers thought the UK’s performance exceeded that of the bloc.
The UK’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the world, significantly outstripping that of the EU, where the rollout programme has been hampered by a centralised approach and problems procuring jabs.
In the UK, 41.65 jabs have been administered per every 100 people, compared with 12.54 across the EU27, according to the Our World In Data website.
READ MORE: EU vaccine bullies – VDL threatens to block AstraZeneca exports
Boris Johnson’s UK has administered a far higher proportion of vaccines than the EU
Kelly Beaver, managing director of Public Affairs at Ipsos Mori, said: “There is no denying that at the start of the pandemic we were all venturing into the unknown, the Government included, and it took heavy criticism of its initial actions, most notably its handling of PPE and the tragic death toll.
“However, our latest polling shows that despite these issues the British public feel that overall the Government have done well compared to its EU counterparts, no doubt a halo effect of the vaccination programme that has, to date, been incredibly successful.”
Ipsos Mori interviewed 2,385 British adults aged 16 and over online between March 12 and 15.
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6.20am update: Brexit deal tensions over NI Protocol threaten to open ‘Pandora’s box’, warns loyalist
RISING frustration with the unionist community over the Brexit deal signed by Boris Johnson in December – and specifically, with the Northern Ireland protocol – have the potential to open a “Pandora’s Box” of protests, one loyalist politician has warned.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said the recent announcement by loyalist paramilitary groups that they were temporarily suspending support for the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) indicated the risk rising tensions posed.
Northern Ireland has been a key sticking point in the Brexit debate and just one month after the United Kingdom quit, the European Commission briefly threatened to impose emergency controls on vaccines crossing the Irish land border.
4.22am update: EU vaccine war escalates as bloc rejects Covid jabs to UK from Dutch plant
THE European Union has rejected calls for AstraZeneca vaccines produced at a Dutch plant to be delivered to the UK, according to an official.
It comes as relations between London and Brussels plummet to new depths and fears of an all out vaccine war grow. The Leiden-based AstraZeneca plant is run by sub-contractor Halix and is contracted to supply both the UK and the EU with vaccine doses. However, an EU official insisted that all vaccines at the Dutch site must be delivered to European countries.
“The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them,” there official told Reuters.
“That doesn’t work.”
They added: “What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU.”
2.54am update: Boris Johnson has ‘declared war’ on devolution as PM savaged by former First Minister
BORIS JOHNSON has “declared war” on devolution with a former First Minister in Scotland claiming “dangerous times lie ahead” under the Conservative leader’s premiership.
Henry McLeish said the Prime Minister is seeking to “wreck” the devolution settlement through the new internal market legislation. Mr McLeish served as Scotland’s First Minister between 2000 and 2001 and was a member of the Labour Party in the country.
He said the UK’s devolved nations need “serious reform”.
1.44am update: Britain urged to get tough with EU following ‘hostile act’ from Brussels
TOP BREXITEER Daniel Hannan has accused the EU of targeting Britain with a “hostile act” over its threat to block Covid vaccine exports.
The former Conservative MEP described these as “wartime measures” from Brussels which mean Britain can “hardly carry on treating it as an ally”. Britain has surged far ahead of the EU in its vaccination programme with more than half the adult population receiving jabs.
However the rollout across Europe has been slow and chaotic sparking fury.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to stop vaccine exports to Britain.
She is demanding Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines made in the UK be sent to the EU.
Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hannan said: “There is no way to interpret the threat of a vaccine export ban other than as a hostile act aimed at Britain.”
12.00am update: The EU healthcare option that ended with Brexit
An EU healthcare option, no longer available in the UK due to Brexit, was growing in popularity on both sides of the Irish border, figures have shown.
The Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (CBHD) allows EU patients to arrange health treatment in most other European countries and claim back some costs., the BBC writes.
Reimbursement is considered for both private and state-funded treatments.
More than £50m was spent reimbursing CBHD patients on both sides of the Irish border over the past five years.
It was particularly popular among cataract patients in the Republic of Ireland, about 2,000 of whom travelled to Belfast on so-called “cataracts buses” to have eye surgery in private clinics in recent years.
However, since the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020, no new applications for help with costs for treatment after that date are being accepted from UK patients under the directive.
It means less choice for UK patients at a time when waiting lists are lengthening and NHS services, even urgent cancer surgeries, have been significantly curtailed by the pandemic.
8.15pm update: EU fishing panic as Danish fishermen rage at Brexit deal: ‘We will lose our livelihoods!’
The EU’s fishermen are adjusting to life after Brexit, but Danes have expressed concerns for their livelihoods as a result of the deal with Brussels.
The UK’s trade deal with the EU has resulted in changes to the fishing quotas enjoyed by European vessels in British waters.
This agreement ensures that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.
After that, annual negotiations will decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.
Many in Europe were relieved that an EU-UK trade deal was pushed over the line to avoid a no deal scenario, but Danish fishermen remain furious with the current terms.
Following the deal’s approval in December, chairman of the Danish Fisheries Association, Svend Erik-Andersen, warned that livelihoods could be lost as Denmark’s quota reduces.
6.35pm update: Boris to order Union Jack to fly ALL year – and special permission needed for EU flag
The Union Jack is set to be flown from every Government building in the UK every day of the year under a new scheme to celebrate Britain’s heritage and pride, with planning permission needed to fly the EU flag.
Government ministers are set to outline their guidance plans this week to allow the Union Jack to be displayed all year round.
Currently, the flag is flown on designated days. Under current Government guidance, the Union Jack must be flown on all UK Government buildings in England, Wales, and Scotland on days, such as the Queen’s birthday.
The new plans were part of the Government’s aim to protect the Union.
There is now pressure on the Government to support the Union in light of a possible second Scottish independence vote.
The new plans will also see managers of public buildings in England having to apply for planning permission if they want to fly the EU flag.
Brexit latest: The Union Jack is set to be flown from every Government building in the UK every day
5.30pm update: How Robert Peston condemned BBC as ‘not impartial’ on Brexit – ‘Didn’t help viewers’
Robert Peston hit out at the BBC’s Brexit coverage after the referendum in 2016, saying aspects of its approach were not impartial.
Mr Peston has made his name covering politics and economics for major broadcasters including ITV as well as the BBC.
Despite having previously worked for the BBC, he was critical of its Brexit coverage during the 2016 referendum on EU membership.
In October 2018, Mr Peston reflected on the broadcaster’s coverage, saying it hadn’t always been impartial.
He told the Cheltenham Literature Festival: “The problem with the BBC, during the campaign, it put people on with diametrically opposed views and didn’t give their viewers and listeners any help in assessing which one was the loony and which one was the genius.
“I do think that they went through a period of just not being confident enough.
“Impartial journalism is not giving equal airtime to two people one of whom says the world is flat and the other one says the world is round.
“That is not balanced, impartial journalism.”
4.08pm update: Ireland is powerless! EU intransigence in Brexit row shows Dublin losing sway, says expert
Ireland’s dwindling post-Brexit influence within the EU has been starkly illustrated by highlighted by the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a former diplomat has claimed.
And Ray Bassett has urged Brussels to adopt a less “pedantic” stance – warning it has nothing to gain by doing so. Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was speaking at a time of raised tensions over the issue.
Britain’s decision to extend the grace period relating to checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has enraged eurocrats, with President Ursula von der Leyen’s European Commission having launched legal action against what they see as a breach of international law.
Mr Bassett, a eurosceptic who believes Ireland should follow the UK’s example by opting for a so-called Irexit, told Express.co.uk: “The hope must be that the move by the UK to overrule elements of the Withdrawal Agreement is part of a negotiating tactic to force the EU into a more realistic and pragmatic position on GB to NI trade.
“It appears that Brussels has been very intransigent despite strong Irish support for concessions which would lessen the obstacles thrown up by the implementation of the NI Protocol.”
Brexit: Lord Adonis issues warning over shellfish exports
3.10pm update: Conservatives plan to extinguish SNP’s independence dream and ‘get rid of them altogether’
The Scottish Conservative Party plans to extinguish the SNP’s Scottish independence dreams by preventing them from securing a majority in the May 2021 parliamentary elections.
Scottish Conservative councillor Tony Miklinski told Express.co.uk that if the SNP does not have a majority in Holyrood following the May 2021 election, they will not have a mandate for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Mr Miklinski added that this would be the first step in getting rid of the SNP altogether.
The Scottish Tory said: “The one overarching and critical aim is to stop them [SNP] from getting a majority.
“If the SNP does not have a majority they cannot claim the mandate for a second independence referendum, even an illegal one that does not have section 30 permission.
“What we want to do is repeat what we did last time and if possible improve on it.
“A repeat would be a huge achievement given the opinion polls of late, given the unparalleled access Nicola Sturgeon has had through her daily press coverage on TV.
“We are bringing it back now to a position where it is indeed realistic if not likely that we will be preventing her majority as a first step to getting rid of them altogether.
“This endless debate really does have to stop for all concerned.”
Brexit latest: Nicola Sturgeon has been warned her Scottish independence dream is under threat
Paul Withers taking over live reporting from Ciaran McGrath.
1.06pm update: BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg warns Dominic Cummings poised to blow huge row wide open
BBC Political Editor Laura Kunessberg said the Prime Minister should be concerned with the reemergence of former adviser and Brexit architect Dominic Cummings who “is more than happy” to reveal his secrets on the UK’s handling of the pandemic.
Mr Cummings appeared at a committee earlier this week which was investigating the Government’s handling of the pandemic in the first few months of lockdown and is expected to return to give more evidence in May.
The former aide said the Department of Health was a “smoking ruin” during his first appearance with Laura Kuenssberg warning Mr Cummings would gladly reveal the Government’s pandemic failures in a stark warning to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Cummings angered the public when he decided to travel to Durham during the tight lockdown measures after urging others to stay at home.
12.15pm update: Victory for Boris as major EU nations turn against Brussels over vaccine war threats
Boris Johnson has recruited “key allies” inside the EU as Britain pushes back against Brussels’ plan to block vaccine exports to the UK.
Boris Johnson appears to have outmanoeuvred Brussels and senior EU figures, including Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, amid a tense clash between the two sides.
Mr Johnson has recruited key member states as allies inside the EU to push back against the European Commission and Ursula von der Leyen’s plan to block vaccine exports to the UK.
Both Mr Macron and Ms Merkel have backed the EU plan which could hit 20 percent of the UK’s vaccine supply.
11.27am update: Milling takes swipe at Labour’s bye-election candidate Williams
Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling has taken a swipe at Labour’s Hartlepool by-election candidate Paul Wiliams, claiming his anti-Brexit view make him unsuitable for the role.
Mrs Milling, the Tory MP for Cannock, tweeted: “Labour’s candidate is a failed former MP who has already been rejected by the people of the North East.
“At the EU Referendum in 2016 Hartlepool voted 69.6 percent to Leave.
“Paul Williams wanted to remain in the EU and worked to frustrate Brexit.”
Amanda Milling’s tweet
10.53am update: ‘Raab not Gove!’ Boris’s snub to Vote Leave ally as Foreign Secretary named PM’s successor
Dominic Raab was branded Boris Johnson’s successor after the Prime Minister was rushed to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, issuing a damning blow to Michael Gove.
Back in April, the Prime Minister tested positive for the deadly virus and was rushed to an intensive care unit where he recovered. But while in hospital, Mr Johnson handed the reins of power to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab instead of Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
Mr Johnson was also forced to self-isolate again after the NHS Test and Trace app said he was in contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
The Prime Minister said as he was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital: “Raab! Not Gove!”
10.33am update: Frexit NOW! Campaigner rages Remainers now regretting Brexit defiance – ‘We MUST follow!’
Frexit could be edging a step closer after a leading campaigner claimed the ongoing European Union vaccine fiasco has turned some Remainer voters against Brussels and urged France not to waste this opportunity to follow the UK out of the bloc.
During the historic Brexit referendum in June 2016, the UK voted by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, with Britain completing its full departure from the bloc following the end of the transition period on December 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has basked in the glory of being free from the Brussels’ shackles, insisting Britain will quickly thrive and flourish in the years outside the EU.
The UK has also received widespread praise for quickly buying tens of millions of vaccines from leading drugs makers and the speed at which the population of 67 million are receiving their jabs, with every adult on course to receive their first dose by July 31.
10.28am update: Ms McGuinness hit out at Britain
Speaking on Marr this morning European Commissioner Ms McGuinness also said Britain must not expect special treatment in upcoming talks on the City of London getting passporting rights within the EU.
“UK chose to leave single market and therefore UK firms lost all of their passporting rights in the European Union. We will not be recreating the conditions for the single market for London because the UK chose to leave.”
10.21am update: UK in full-blooded ‘trade war’ with EU – Brexiteer tells Boris to get tough
Brexit Britain and the EU are now in a “trade war” following the UK’s exit from the bloc, Andrew Bridgen has warned.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the Tory MP warned the Prime Minister to be ready for further attacks from Brussels.
The EU is yet to formally ratify the deal and until it does, Mr Bridgen claimed it is utilising the added time to punish the UK for leaving the bloc.
Not only is the EU exerting full pressure on the UK but the MP also claimed Brussels cannot be considered an ally of Britain post-Brexit.
Mairead McGuinness, Ireland’s European Commissioner
9.43am update: Bloc is “in a difficult place” with Northern Ireland, admits EU chief
The EU is “in a difficult place” when it comes to arrangements for Northern Ireland, Euopean Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has admitted.
Mrs McGuinness, the bloc’s financial services supremo, said it was important to “reduce the temperature and find soluions”.
9.26am update: EU starts all-out vaccine war: Merkel and Macron back UK export ban – major supplies alert
Boris Johnson and the EU appear to be heading for an all out vaccine war, as European leaders are on the brink of imposing a punitive export ban on the UK.
Brussels is furious with Astrazeneca, accusing the company of prioritising vaccine deliveries to the UK over those to the EU.
European officials claim that the British-Swedish firm has only delivered a third of the 90 million vaccine doses it promised during the first quarter of this year, while fulfilling its UK contracts in full.
Now, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to join forces with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel to block the delivery of 19 million doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine to the UK.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel
9.16am update: Ignore ‘EU-rophile lobby’ over NI Protocol, urges economist
Boris Johnson has been urged to ignore the “EU-rophile” lobby pushing for close alignment with the bloc’s regulations as a way of resolving problems centred on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Wrangling over the controversial arrangements aimed at preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland have been a key feature of the post-Brexit debate – but Catherine McBride, a fellow at the Centre for Brexit, told the Prime Minister he would be making a huge mistake by caving in.
Writing for Conservative Home, she said: “There is currently an EU-rophile lobby pushing the UK to align with EU regulations by claiming that this will solve the problems created by the ill-thought through Northern Ireland Protocol. Giving in to this lobby would be a mistake.
“There are much larger markets and much better food suppliers outside of the EU – with both higher quality and lower prices.
“Trading with these markets would reduce British food bills, increase farm exports, and benefit the economy as a whole.”
9am update: Nicky Campbell admitted family rows over Brexit ‘get full on’: ‘Dreading Christmas lunch’
Nicky Campbell admitted divisions over Brexit within his own family had left him “dreading Christmas lunch”.
Mr Campbell is a well-known BBC presenter, having worked with Radio 5 Live for close to two decades.
He currently hosts the Breakfast show on 5 Live with fellow broadcaster Rachel Burden, along with Your Call, a programme where listeners phone in with their thoughts on the big stories of the week.
After the EU referendum result was announced, he was one of the few public figures to say he was not surprised when Britain voted to leave the bloc.
8.38am update: Guy Verhofstadt’s new top EU job proves Brexiteers were right all along, says ex-diplomat
Guy Verhofstadt’s appointment to an influential new role at the heart of the EU is an “extremely bad move” by the bloc which underlines why the UK was right to vote for Brexit in the first place, a former top diplomat has said.
And Ray Bassett believes the decision will merely serve to encourage other members of the EU27 to follow Britain’s example.
Arch-federalist Mr Verhofstadt was this week confirmed as chairman of a seven-person delegation which will spearhead the Conference on the Future of Europe, a series of events organised by the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council, and aimed at “giving citizens a greater role in shaping the Union’s future policies and ambitions”.
Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, believes Mr Verhofstadt, a vehement critic of Brexit who has wasted few opportunities to lecture Britain about the error of its ways, is singularly unsuited to such a post.
Guy Verhofstadt berates Nigel Farage in the European Parliament
8.25am update: How Brussels’ £2.4billion fine for Britain sparked theme for bitter talks
Brexit tensions were riding high as the EU fined the UK £2.4billion and branded Britain a “fraud hub”.
The UK is in the midst of a legal row with the EU as Brussels sues the country for failing to recover illegal tax breaks doled out to multinational firms.
Authorities are yet to reclaim the £86million in tax breaks aimed at luring firms to Gibraltar over two years after the EU deemed them illegal, the European Commission warned this week.
The move comes days after the EU’s March 15 decision to escalate a dispute with Britain over its unilateral decision to delay implementing a key part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Legal disputes between London and Brussels have become a theme throughout the Brexit process since the UK voted to leave the bloc in 2016.
In March 2018, the European Commission fined Britain £2.4billion.
8.05am update: They still don’t get it! Remoaning Lib Dems vow to reverse Boris’s ‘damaging’ Brexit deal
The Liberal Democrats have claimed that we “owe it to Europe” to reverse Boris Johnson’s “damaging” Brexit deal.
Layla Moran told its spring conference that the party is still endeavouring to overturn the democratic referendum in 2016.
And while claiming to act for the British people – a majority of whom voted Leave – she said that her party are “unashamedly pro-European”.
Addressing the virtual conference, she added: “Let me be unequivocally clear – our direction as an unashamedly pro-European party is resolute.”
Europhile Andrew Adonis
7.49am update: Rejoiner Andrew Adonis ruthlessly mocked on Twitter after expressing ‘pride’ in EU flag
Arch-europhile Lord Andrew Adonis has been mocked on Twitter after posting he is “proud” of the EU flag.
The former New Labour minister is campaigning for Britain to once again re-join the EU. On Saturday he tweeted an EU flag photo with the caption: “I am so proud of this flag.”
The post sparked ridicule with many Brexit supporters posting pictures of Union Jacks in reply.
One user commented: “This is the best parody account.”
They followed this with the ‘rolling on the floor laughing’ emoji.
7.38am update: EU vaccine ‘catastrophe’ has Remainers seeing bloc’s ‘true colours’, says Tory MP
EU vaccine mismanagement has causes Remainers to see the blocs “true colour” once and for all, says Brexiteer MP Richard Holden.
The European Union blame game over the bloc’s faltering vaccination programme has changed the mind of Remainers according to the Conservative MP.
He insisted that while some pro-EU supporters would remain opposed to Britain taking back control from Brussels, others have had their loyalties questioned.
EU bosses have been forced to apologise to citizens after a botched vaccine rollout saw the rate of jabs languish far behind other parts of the World as well as the UKwww.dailysunexpress.com