Mon, 11 December 2023

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Former Tory health minister condemns No10 for quitting EU pandemic warning system

2 min read

A former Tory health minister has hit out at the Government's decision to quit the EU's pandemic warning system after Brexit.

Nicola Blackwood said the coronavirus crisis demonstrated the benefits of remaining part of the set-up.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Department of Health wanted the UK to stay in the Early Warning and Response System after Brexit, but Number 10 refused.

It is understood the Government's negoatiating team in the UK-EU trade talks, which kick off in Brussels on Monday, did not want it to impact on their demands for a clean break from the bloc.

Appearing on Sky News, Baroness Blackwood, who was a minister in the Department of Health until leaving government two weeks ago, said that was a mistake.

She said: "My advice while I was in there was that I thought it was absolutely appropriate that we should stay engaged with that system. It was one of the ways in which we did get early warning of coronavirus, and I think that we should be seeking to remain engaged with it.

"This is a way in which we can ensure that public health is protected and I think it would be the sensible thing, as we leave the EU but remain part of Europe, to ensure that we have good co-operation on global health and security.

"I think this is something that the EU would want to maintain and we as Britain should seek to maintain."

Her comments came as Boris Johnson chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee on coronavirus for the first time.

The Prime Minister said: "The number of coronavirus cases around the world is rising every day - and the UK is no exception. 

"There now seems little doubt that it will present a significant challenge for our country. But we are well prepared, and the government and the NHS will stop at nothing to fight this virus.

"This battle plan lays out in detail the measures we could use - if and when they are needed."

Meanwhile, a row has erupted after London mayor Sadiq Khan was not invited to attend the Cobra meeting.

A City Hall source said: "People might feel it is a bit strange that he’s not invited given the size of London, its status as a global travel hub, its large transport network and sports and entertainment venues."

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