Brexit Party chairman shut down for linking Covid-19 vaccine to Brexit

Politics Live host Jo Coburn (L) and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice

Politics Live host Jo Coburn (L) and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice - Credit: BBC

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice has been challenged after suggesting Britain fast-tracked a coronavirus vaccine thanks to Brexit.

Politics Live presenter Jo Coburn swiftly rebuffed Tice who suggested Britain was able to speedily approve a vaccine because it was no longer part of the EU.

Tice was echoing comments made by the health secretary last week that the UK had been the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine thanks for new powers given to Westminster since it left the EU at the end of January.

Matt Hancock was quickly rebuked by the head of Britain's medicine regulator, June Raine, who said the approval process was undertaken under the terms of European law, which remains in force until the end of the Brexit transition period.

When Tice iterated a similar statement, Coburn cut in: "Hang on a second. We need to clear this point up. We talked about this last week where there were claims made by ministers that it was because we've left the EU that somehow we were no longer under regulations by the EU and that we were the first to approve that vaccine.

"That is not correct. That was not the reason we were first. There may be another reason but it's not because we were no longer under the auspices of the EU because we still are until we leave at the end of the transition period on December 31."

Tice replied: "We have more freedom to make that decision -"

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"Sorry, what does that mean?" Coburn cut in.

Tice said: "We chose to use the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to make that judgement as opposed to what the other 27 nations have done, which has been to wait for the EU's own regulatory body.

"We've had that ability, and bought the vaccine and therefore become the first country in the world to be able to start to use those vaccines this week and that's because this government had taken control of key decision makings.

"That's the whole point of taking back control."

Economist and FT columnist Tim Harford labelled that argument as "rather vague and untrue".

He said the MHRA has had the power to approve vaccines in a public health emergency since 2012.

Taking a dig at the idea of taking back control, Hartford said: "We're still very unclear about really what we are actually planning to do with this freedom.

"What are we planning to do? I still haven't heard anyone explain it to me."

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