Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”We had the fastest vaccine rollout in the world. We had that because of our freedoms after leaving the EU”

PM Rishi Sunak, House of Commons

Facts

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Rishi Sunak reiterated his support for Brexit as the “right thing for this country,” and used vaccine rollout as evidence. Those ministers sitting around him nodded in agreement.

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. 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.

Verdict

Sunak 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. He was repeated a lie which had been repeatedly deployed by Boris Johnson when Prime Minister.

He has not subsequently corrected his false statement, meaning that his remark is in breach of the Ministerial Code.

We emailed Rishi Sunak’s office and Downing Street offering them the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply. 

Additional InformationWhilst campaigning to be Tory leader and the British Prime Minister, Sunak made a  pledge to, “put integrity and honesty at the heart of how I run government and how I want to be Prime Minister.” He then repeated this pledge in his first speech as Prime Minister, promising that, “This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.” 

Both remarks sent out the message that Sunak would distance himself from the dishonesty and sloppiness of the Johnson and Truss premierships. Sunak’s fake claim that Britain’s fast vaccine roll out was “because of our freedoms after leaving the EU” is further evidence that Sunak message was cynical and misleading. He was repeating a lie repeatedly deployed by Boris Johnson in a deeply dishonest attempt to portray the UK’s vaccine rollout as a positive impact of Brexit. See here, here and here.

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