Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Thanks to the position we took, we had an independent medical agency that was able to make sure that the first Covid vaccine in anybody’s arm was in the UK, and that was because we were outside something called the European Medicines Agency”

PM Boris Johnson, CNN


Johnson, when asked to provide an example of a Brexit benefit, cited UK’s Covid vaccine rollout.. He asserted that an independent medical agency, with the UK outside of the European Medicines Agency, allowed the UK’s vaccine rollout. This is false.

Until the 1st of January 2021, the UK was in a transition period within the EU. It was, at the time, still a member of the EU’s single market and of the EMA. Throughout this transition period, the UK and its medical agencies operated under EMA rules.

The UK’s vaccines were procured whilst still a member of the single market and the EMA. Further, the UK’s early rollout was secured by the use of Regulation 174, an EU provision allowing member states to bypass the authorisation of the EMA and issue their own medicines.


The UK’s vaccine rollout had nothing to do with Brexit. Vaccines were procured whilst the UK was still a member of the single market and the EMA. The vaccine rollout was approved under an EU regulation which was available to all EU member states. Johnson was wrong to say that the UK was able to enact its vaccine rollout due to Brexit, as the UK was still in a transition period and operating under EU rules at the time when vaccinations were procured and authorised.

We emailed Boris Johnson’s office offering him the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply.  

Scroll to Top