Boris Johnson Rebukes EU Claims That UK Imposed "Outright Ban" On Covid Vaccine Exports
The Prime Minister has hit back at the claims from the senior EU leader
The Prime Minister has waded into the growing diplomatic row following claims from senior EU officials that the UK had blocked vaccine exports.
European Council President Charles Michel had claimed earlier this week that both the UK and US had imposed an "outright ban" on exports of vaccines and vaccine components - remarks which UK ministers have branded "completely false".
In a weekly briefing note, the EU leader had claimed he was "shocked" that accusations had been made against the bloc that they were engaging in "vaccine nationalism" following mounting pressure over their slow roll out of the jab.
"The fact do not lie," he wrote in the newsletter sent out on Tuesday.
"The United Kingdom and the United States have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory," he added.
But speaking on Wednesday at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson said he wished to "correct" the claims, adding the UK had "not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine".
"We can also be proud of the support the UK has given to the international Covid response, including the £548m we have donated to Covax," he told MPs.
"I therefore wish to correct the suggestion from the European Council President that the UK has blocked vaccine exports. Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components."
"This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the battle for global health. We oppose vaccine nationalism in all its forms."
Johnson's intervention comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had reportedly written to the council president saying he "wanted to set the record straight" over the comments.
He repeated the Prime Minister's claims that the UK had not blocked any vaccine or components, adding: "Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false."
In a tweet on Tuesdsay evening, Michel had sought to clarify his comments, saying he was "glad if the UK reaction leads to more transparency and increased exports, to EU and third countries".
And while he did not repeat his claim of an outright ban, he said there were "different ways of imposing bans or restrictions".
But in a further escalation, Raab summoned the EU's UK representative to an urgent meeting in London on Wednesday morning to discuss the claims.
The major rift comes after an earlier dispute over vaccine supply when the EU attempted in January to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit withdrawal agreement to implement controls on the supply of jabs to Northern Ireland.
But the bloc quickly u-turned on their decision and apologised for their actions following a major backlash to the plans.