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.
However, Britain has “recruited” key allies in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland – all of whom are urging Brussels to stand down.
Daily Telegraph Deputy Political Editor Lucy Fisher told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are scaling up now for a pretty tense week with the EU.
“This a subject that will be discussed at the EU Council summit on Thursday.
“It’s worth noting there isn’t a consensus in the bloc over how to treat this threat of a blockade, or what the Mail on Sunday calls ‘holding doses hostage from the UK’.”
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She continued: “France and Germany appear to be backing the European Commission’s Presidents threat.
“But, Boris Johnson does seem to have done a good job in recruiting allies in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland – all of whom are much more reluctant to engage in this trade war.”
Earlier on Sky News, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said any plans to deny vaccine exports to the UK would be extremely damaging for the bloc which prides itself on “open trading” and following contracts.
Mr Wallace said the European Commission and Ursula von der Leyen “knows” the world is watching and if the EU begins to “unpick” the contracts it has with third countries it would unravel other agreements across the globe.
Ms von der Leyen said: “That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start supplying to other countries.
“We have received nothing from the British, while we are supplying them with vaccines.”
She immediately received support from France’s European Affairs minister.
Clement Beaune told AFP that Europe must “defend its interests”, adding: “We need a principle of reciprocity: supply others if they supply us in accordance with signed contracts.”
The UK Government hit back at the EU’s threats of an export ban, claiming the move would be “illegal”.