‘Catastrophic’ EU chief von der Leyen is urged to quit over ‘shambolic’ vaccine rollout

Vaccine: Von der Leyen hints at slowing of exports to UK

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And Mr Bull – himself a qualified doctor – also fears European countries are putting their citizens at risk by suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, over concerns about isolated cases of blood clots, despite health regulators pronouncing the jab to be safe. The bloc’s coronavirus response has been mired in controversy from the outset.

Initially, countries across the EU27 closed their borders in direct contravention of the Schengen Agreement aimed at ensuring freedom of movement.

Brussels then insisted the rollout of the vaccine had to be undertaken at a bloc-wide level, rather than by individual countries.

As a result, the number of its citizens having had at least one jab across the EU27 (11.96 per 100 people, according to the Our World in Data website) continues to lag significantly behind, for example, the UK’s figure (39.82).

Mr Bull, who was last week installed as deputy leader of the Reform Party, rebranded from the Brexit Party earlier this year, said: “Right at the beginning, I think it was reticence, and the fact that she wanted them to work as one group, that delayed the rollout of the vaccine across the European countries.

“But now it seems to me that we’ve now got these rogue member states that have taken matters into their own hands, and that European Union, particularly Ursula von der Leyen, has lost control.

Mr Bull agreed it was a resignation issue, saying: “The European Union prides itself on protecting its European citizens, and quite frankly the rollout of the vaccine has been so shambolic, I would argue that they’ve put European lives in enormous danger.

“They are also destroying the country’s economies. Now, if you are the leader of that group that is a poor indictment of your performance.

“I think her tenure has been fairly catastrophic. I certainly don’t think she’s got a grip on it.

As for whether she would actually be asked to quit, he added: “ I think that’s up to the EU.

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“But if I was running one of the country’s governments I would be absolutely livid at the way she has handled this.”

The EU’s difficulties have been compounded by large numbers of member states, including France, Germany and Italy imposing the ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in conjunction with scientists from Oxford University.

Mr Bull added: “To me what it shows is just sort of how the EU is so dysfunctional.

“This vaccine is safe, clinical regulators say it is safe and that includes the British regulators, the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation.

“For me what is really poor about this is that when you look at the data, there have been instances of blood clots, but they are lower that what you would expect in the normal population, and there is absolutely no way that you can say there’s a causal link between the two of them.”

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Mr Bull said the reticence of European countries which he said had essentially “gone rogue” by imposing the ban despite the available scientific data was fraught with risk.

He said: “They are playing with lives – they will kill Europeans.

“And that’s partly because the rollout has been poor but it is also because this will increase worry and concern amongst Europeans immunisation isn’t safe.

“And so you’re going to see even more fall-off in the numbers being vaccinated. They are playing a very dangerous game.”

Mr Bull also pointed to a general lack of joined-up thinking.

He explained: “There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make any sense at all.

“If you remember, they were so desperate to get it they tried to impose a border on the island of Ireland

“Italy then blocked the export to Australia.

“But at the same time they stopped using it so there are some very mixed messages here.

“For me, not as a politician but as a doctor the travesty is what they are doing to their citizens.”

Mr Bull added: “If you remember the beginning of the European Union, the reason they got themselves into such a pickle is because they wouldn’t allow member states to procure vaccines on their own, they said we have to do it as a bloc.

“They’ve moved incredibly slowly when you look at how they have done compared with the UK. It just shows a sort of totalitarian state. It doesn’t work and whose best interests is it serving? Certainly people who live in Europe.

“What they’re striving towards is a federal Europe. They find individual countries rather annoying – they want a central, monolithic state.

“We are going to see a third wave across Europe and what we are worried about is that we are going to get further strains of COVID and I just think the EU is incredibly selfish.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the European Commission to offer Mrs von der Leyen a chance to respond.

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