It’s not that Boris Johnson didn’t try. On Tuesday evening he took his unruly MPs personally in prayer to get them on the line of government. But it didn’t help, in the end the prime minister suffered the biggest defeat in a lower house vote in his term in office. 54 Tory MPs spoke out against the government’s corona ordinance, 16 did not even vote. If so many parliamentarians had not abstained on the opposition side, Johnson would have failed with his new corona regulations. That didn’t happen in the end, but the result means a huge loss of authority for the prime minister.
From this Thursday on, the second lockdown in England is over, the regions are now divided into three stages. Put simply, it is like this: the higher the number of corona infections, the greater the restrictions on public life. While pubs and restaurants are allowed to reopen in London, for example, they remain closed in large parts of northern England. And so all those MPs will continue to rebel against Johnson in whose constituencies lockdown-like regulations apply. Many Tories see it as unnecessarily draconian measures that primarily harm the economy, especially now, in the run-up to Christmas. At least there is a ray of hope for Johnson’s critics: The measures, which now apply until the beginning of February, are reviewed every two weeks – and can be relaxed depending on the infection rate.
Since Wednesday morning, however, there has been a completely different reason not to give up hope: Great Britain was the first western country to approve a corona vaccine. “This is fantastic,” Johnson tweeted immediately full of euphoria. “It’s the protection of the vaccines that ultimately allows us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.” The vaccination will be available from next week, the Prime Minister promised. “Several million cans are expected to be deployed by the end of the year,” Johnson said at a press conference at Downing Street that evening. Johnson praised the efforts of the scientists involved. The British Prime Minister raved about the virus with “organic Jiu Jitsu”. It didn’t take long before the government figured out the reason why Great Britain of all places was able to approve a vaccine before the EU and the USA: thanks to Brexit.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the radio station the Timesthat the British supervisory authority MHRA is a world-class authority and because of Brexit no longer has to go the pace of the Europeans. Because they moved a little slower. Hancock assured him that all security checks and de facto the same processes as on the EU side had been carried out. But one thing is certain: “Because of Brexit, we were able to accelerate the process.” But that’s not quite true. Because basically every EU state would be legally able to enforce an emergency license à la London. However, the fact did not change the fact that the British government extolled this very important moment as a kind of Brexit dividend.
On Wednesday it was the German ambassador in London, Andreas Michaelis, who reminded the British that the approved vaccine was not an invention from Great Britain. “Why is it so difficult to recognize this step forward as a great international effort and success?” Wrote the diplomat on Twitter. Although the German company Biontech had made a decisive contribution, it was not a national story, but “European and transatlantic”, explained the ambassador.
Michaelis was responding to a tweet from UK Economy Secretary Alok Sharma, who announced: “The UK was the first country to sign a contract with Pfizer / Biontech – now we will be the first to use the vaccine.” And then he added: “For years to come, we will remember this moment as the day when Britain took human initiative against this disease.”
Compulsory vaccination, says Johnson, is not part of British culture
For Johnson, the approval of the corona vaccine is a gift in three ways. Firstly, he can pacify the rebels in his party; after all, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Second, Johnson showed the western world that Britain has won the race for vaccine approval; He wants the Brexiteers to believe that this is due to the exit from the EU. Thirdly, in the final phase of the Brexit negotiations, Johnson signaled to the EU that he had said goodbye to the often protracted community processes. For him, vaccination approval is a symbol of the long-awaited sovereignty – and this for the benefit of the British people.
The vaccine should now be delivered immediately. Initially there will be 800,000 vaccinations, initially probably for residents of old people’s and nursing homes and for employees in the health sector. When large parts of the population can be vaccinated depends on how quickly the vaccine can be produced and shipped. There will be no legal vaccination requirement, said Johnson, this is not part of British culture.
The Prime Minister now hopes that the view of Great Britain will change for the better, because in no other European country have so far more people died from the coronavirus. The note “Covid-19” can now be found on more than 60,000 death certificates. Johnson repeatedly asserted that it was too early to make international comparisons, after all, nobody knew when the crisis would be over. But it is already clear: The corona pandemic hit the United Kingdom hardest in Europe. The country recorded 603 new deaths on Tuesday. The number of new infections was 13,430.