UK told ‘little island will feel very small’ – EU official lashes out after vaccine fiasco

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The EU has been widely criticised for its glacial rollout as just 11.3 percent of people over the age of 18 have received their first dose of a vaccine. Only 4.9 percent of people have received both jabs of a vaccine.

In comparison, more than 30 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated.

But now, a senior EU diplomat has attacked Britain’s successful vaccine rollout claiming the country will feel “very small” as neighbouring countries are still not vaccinated.

They said: “You might feel very happy on your little island when you are all vaccinated, but your island might feel very small when you cannot leave it because your neighbours are not vaccinated.”

Neale Richmond, an Irish government backbencher, warned the bloc that Brexit Britain has “created a framework” for other countries to leave the EU.

UK told 'little island will feel very small'

UK told ‘little island will feel very small’ (Image: Getty)

AstraZeneca vaccine blocked from exports

AstraZeneca vaccine blocked from exports (Image: Getty)

He told CNN: “The perception that the UK is rolling out so fast while the EU is stumbling from crisis to crisis is very unhelpful.

“While no one believes a member state is going to leave over the EU’s handling of the pandemic or that it will fall apart, the post-Brexit reality is that all crises are automatically linked to the fact the UK has created a framework for leaving.”

While Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at the Eurasia Group, said the EU’s slow rollout is part of the Commission’s “failures on health policy”.

She said: “Europe’s pandemic can be viewed through the Commission’s failures on health policy and its successes on economic policy.

READ MORE: EU chiefs fail to secure new Covid-19 vaccine supply deal

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image: Getty)

“My sense is that it will be hard for the Commission to say that its failures on health mean it should have more control of Europe’s health policy.

“However, if the Covid recovery fund results in serious reform, that could be a catalyst for more European integration.”

Over the weekend, European Commissioner Thierry Breton warned all AstraZeneca vaccine vials produced in the bloc will not leave the EU until all member states have caught up with their inoculations.

Mr Breton swiped at the UK and claimed Britons are “incapable” of keeping up with vaccinations without the help of the EU.

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Coronavirus cases around the world

Coronavirus cases around the world (Image: Express)

He told LCI: “As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans.

“If there are surpluses, they will go elsewhere.”

He added: “The British are incapable of carrying out the vaccine policy alone.

“Britain had to produce today only 10 million vaccines.

Boris Johnson received the AstraZeneca vaccine

Boris Johnson received the AstraZeneca vaccine (Image: Getty)

“We have delivered 20 million doses to help the British. They are totally dependent on us.

“It’s a bit like ‘The Grasshopper and the Ant’, instead of keeping the second dose, they preferred to give the first dose to everyone, without reservation.”

Following his comments, French President Emmanuel Macron gloated about the UK’s “dependence” on the bloc for the administration of second doses.

Mr Macron said: “In a few weeks we will have completely caught up with the British, who will meanwhile be increasingly dependent on us to vaccinate their population.”

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron (Image: Getty)

The row between the UK and the EU has been escalating since the Commission threatened Britain with a ban on vaccine exports.

However, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be administered on time without mixing jabs, despite concerns over a slowdown in supplies.

He told the BBC: “We have borne in mind that we have to get that second top-up in so we are confident that we will be able to deliver it.

“We are confident that it won’t require mixing of vaccines.”

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