Vaccine benefit from Brexit 'over-simplistic', claims Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon said the argument that Brexit has led to a quicker vaccine roll-out in the UK than much of Europe was “over-simplistic”.

The First Minister was challenged on comments from SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford, who last July said the UK Government should be working with EU partners in its vaccine procurement.

Ms Sturgeon was asked whether the vaccine procurement success by the UK Government was “one of the most powerful arguments for Brexit” during an interview on Good Morning Britain on Thursday.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said it is over-simplistic to say Brexit has helped the vaccine roll-out in the UKNicola Sturgeon has said it is over-simplistic to say Brexit has helped the vaccine roll-out in the UK
Nicola Sturgeon has said it is over-simplistic to say Brexit has helped the vaccine roll-out in the UK
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In response, she said: “I think there’s a bigger point, but I’m not going to sit here and say anything other than I think it’s really good that the UK has managed to procure as much vaccine and that the UK as a whole is getting ahead in terms of vaccine.

“We all have an interest in seeing all countries get the populations vaccinated because this is a global pandemic, but I think the UK is in a very strong position.

“That the vaccination procurement and the approval of the vaccines started while the UK was still in the EU transition period, the rules around the European Medicines Agency would have allowed that to happen anyway.”

Many prominent UK politicians have argued that Brexit has allowed the UK to go its own way on vaccine supplies, allowing for a quicker roll-out.

Some European countries have seen a much slower approval and roll-out than the UK due to the European Union’s vaccine procurement process.

However, Ms Sturgeon claimed that crediting Brexit for that difference was “over-simplistic”.

She said: “Of course you can make that argument, but sometimes I think it’s a slightly over-simplistic argument, but we should all be pleased that the vaccination programme is going so well.

“The issues around Brexit are much wider and more fundamental, but even on this narrow point I think if you were to apply really detailed scrutiny it wouldn’t be quite that simple.

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“The UK, even if it had still been in the EU under the rules of medicines approval, would still have been able to take decisions around vaccines as it has done.

“But it’s thoroughly a good thing that the UK has got such good supplies. Obviously all of us want to make sure those supplies keep flowing.”

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