Military planes could fly-in Covid-19 vaccine amid fears of post-Brexit delays at Britain’s ports
- Military aircraft could fly in tens of millions of Covid-19 vaccines from Belgium
- Most doses of the Pfizer shot are being produced in the Belgian town of Puurs
- British ports are expected to suffer heavy post-Brexit delays from January 1
- It comes as talks resume in a last ‘throw of the dice’ to reach a deal with the EU
Military planes could fly-in the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine amid fears of post-Brexit delays at Britain’s ports.
The majority of doses for Pfizer’s vaccine, which offers up to six months of immunity to the coronavirus, are being produced in the town of Puurs, Belgium.
Attempts to try and reach a Brexit deal are continuing today in a last ‘throw of the dice,’ as Environment Secretary George Eustice said the ‘next few days’ will show whether the EU is bluffing in a bid to ‘get a few things over the line’.
But as the Government tries to roll-out its vaccination scheme, the Department for Health and Social Care has had talks with the Ministry of Justice to ensure ten doses can arrive on time.
The military may have to fly millions of Covid-19 vaccines into Britain from Belgium if there are post-Brexit delays at ports come January 1. The Pfizer vaccine is being largely produced in the town of Puurst, Belgium
‘We will do this if necessary. The plans have been discussed,’ a DHSC source told The Guardian.
Vaccines are expected to be rolled-out for the over 80s and care home residents from December 14, with other, less vulnerable Brits, having the opportunity next year.
Boris Johnson and commission president Ursula von der Leyen had an hour-long phone call last night to take stock of progress, following months of intense talks led by David Frost and Michel Barnier.
However, in a joint statement afterwards they admitted there were still ‘significant differences’ between London and Brussels.
Plans to ensure the arrival of the vaccine come as Boris Johnson spoke with EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday night. In a joint statement, the leaders accepted that ‘significant differences remain,’ amid ongoing Brexit talks
After making the call from his Chequers country escape, Mr Johnson released a joint statement with Ms von der Leyen which said that ‘significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries’.
It said: ‘Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.
‘Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.
‘We are therefore instructing our chief negotiators to reconvene tomorrow in Brussels. We will speak again on Monday evening.’
Lord Frost is due back in Brussels with a small team of negotiators to attempt to work through the remaining issues.
While in the past much of the focus has been on the differences over fisheries, British sources indicated they would be looking particularly at the so-called ‘level playing field’ rules on issues like state aid for business.
A source close to the talks said: ‘This is the final throw of the dice.
Talks have resumed today in a ‘final throw of the dice,’ with Ms von der Leyen (pictured) expected to speak to Mr Johnson again on Monday
‘There is a fair deal to be done that works for both sides but this will only happen if the EU is willing to respect fundamental principles of sovereignty and control.’
British negotiators were left stunned by a sudden hardening of the EU position at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he would veto any deal that threatened French interests.
One source called them ‘unprecedented last-minute demands incompatible with our commitment to becoming a sovereign nation’, adding: ‘There is barely any time left, and this process may not end in agreement.’