Grant Shapps has fallen short of promising the public that Brexit would not affect the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine currently being developed in the EU.
The transport secretary said he remained somewhat confident Britons would have access to the Pfizer vaccine being produced in Belgium.
Earlier this week, the government announced coronavirus vaccine trials by the pharmaceutical giant had proved 90% successful and that dosages could be available to sections of the public by Christmas.
Speaking on Sky News, Shapps said he was confident Britons’ access to the vaccine would not be hindered by a no-deal Brexit.
“How much confidence can you give our viewers that getting that vaccine onto UK shores won’t be thwarted by Brexit chaos?” a presenter asked.
“In terms of the transition period we’ve done an extraordinary amount of work to make sure our borders can flow -“
The presenter cut in: “Is that a guarantee?”
The minister continued: “It’s as undisrupted as is possible.”
Asked if the timing was unfortunate, Shapps replied: “We don’t have a final deal with the EU and so we don’t know if we will be leaving on the so-called Australian or Canadian style departure.”
The minister said he was confident the lorry park in Kent would ensure the uninterrupted passage of the vaccine after Brexit.
“In response to your question on vaccines, I have absolutely no concern whatsoever that the vaccines we have purchased… that we’ll make sure we’ve got those for this country.”
Twitter users were less than convinced.
@Pumpkinz16 posted: “Of course, we will be just hunky-dory on a Canadian or Australian deal and provided the lorry park doesn’t flood and the customs posts are up and running and we have enough officials on stand by and the new computer programme is working and tariffs have been paid and… and… and.”
Of course, we will be just hunky-dory on a Canadian or Australian deal and provided the lorry park doesn't flood & the customs posts are up &running and we have enough officials on stand by & the new computer programme is working & tariffs have been paid & …&…..&
— Pumpkin #3.5% #FBPE 🇬🇧🇪🇺 (@Pumpkinz16) November 13, 2020
One user by the name of Mike quipped: “Only Grant Shapps could present a huge bureaucratic trade bottleneck and lorry park as some kind of comfort blanket for a worried nation to hang onto.”
Others were concerned about the vaccine remaining at the right temperature while in transit.
Glen pointed out: “The vaccine needs to be transported at a steady minus seventy degrees and monitored, doubt that could be done in a muddy lorry park in Kent waiting to clear customs.”
The vaccine needs to be transported at a steady minus seventy degrees and monitored, doubt that could be done in a muddy lorry park in Kent waiting to clear customs
— Glen, DoP & Freelance Lighting Cameraman 🎥 (@glenharveyjones) November 13, 2020
@Suseq6 responded: “We’ll just have to queue outside the lorry’s back door for our shots.”
@ConnieFr wrote: “Excellent! We get the vaccine into the UK! yey! and it stays in the car park for months. Well done Tories! You’ve outdone yourselves.”