Brexit ultimatum: Bitter MEP threatens to veto UK trade deal as revenge for vaccine row

Frenchman Pierre Karleskind, chair of the fisheries committee, claimed Downing Street was giving MEPs a reason to vote down the future relationship treaty. He argued No10’s suggestion the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was funded by UK taxpayers could be provocative to euro politicians ahead of their ballot to ratify the trade and security pact. The EU Parliament has yet to ratify the Brexit trade agreement and is expected to vote on whether to approve it next month.

Writing on social media, Mr Karleskind said: “Dear Downing Street, you should consider the fact that giving arguments against the ratification of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is not a good idea.

“Seven hundred and five members of the European Parliament still have to make their mind up before the end of April.”

The Frenchman, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, was responding to reports British diplomats will tell the EU this week they must take into account the millions spent by British taxpayers on creating the AstraZeneca jab in talks over the bloc’s export ban.

Wrangling between London and Brussels is expected to resume this week after eurocrats threatened to block shipments of millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine heading to our shores.

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No10 wants to broker a compromise in the stand-off over immunisations manufactured at the Halix plant in Leiden, the Netherlands.

The facility is set to produce around five million doses a week, which Brussels is demanding the lion’s share of because it feels AstraZeneca has not delivered enough jabs to member states.

EU-UK negotiations this week will focus on defining “reciprocity” and whether a deal could factor in investment in vaccine development.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week demanded “reciprocity” after she complained to EU leaders that the bloc had shipped 21 million vaccines to Britain since December but received none in return.

British officials are expected to argue the country has limited production capacities, with no international recognised vaccines manufacturing capabilities before the pandemic.

They will tell their Brussels counterparts UK taxpayers invested more than £80 million to help AstraZeneca manufacture the jab produced by scientists at Oxford University.

The Anglo-Swedish pharma firm agreed to produce the vaccine at cost price and under an open licence after the Government helped negotiate its partnership with the Oxford scientists.

Without this, UK diplomats will say there would have been no vaccine to help the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

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The UK also wants Brussels to recognise it exports raw materials to the Pfizer vaccine plant in Belgium, for the production of the EU’s most-used jab.

It will be stressed the Government also plans to spend around £15 billion in the coming years on research on drugs, treatments and vaccines for Covid.

EU insiders say the UK suggestions “seemed fair” but the German investment in the Pfizer jab would also have to be taken into account.

Berlin has pumped in around £289 million to produce the vaccine alongside BioNTech.

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Brussels and London are expected to reach an agreement after they issued a joint statement to cool tensions.

They said they would “create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens”.

Germany and the Netherlands are leading a group of countries that don’t want Mrs von der Leyen to blockade British vaccines amid fears it will wreck European supply chains.

But France’s Emmanuel Macron has repeated threats that AstraZeneca shipments to Britain, despite none being planned, should be blocked and kept for mainland Europe.

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