The UK officially left the EU in January last year after an 11-month transition period and the effects of the UK’s severing ties with the bloc were almost immediate. In February last year, the EU’s vaccination rate was around a fifth of Britain’s, with the UK vaccinating more than 10 million people. It was then the third highest rate of vaccine distribution in the world behind Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Members of the British government claimed that Brexit was behind the lightning-fast vaccination programme.
Then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in an interview with Times Radio: “Thanks to Brexit we were able to make decisions [to approve the Pfizer vaccine] based on the UK regulator, a world-class regulator, and not keeping pace with the Europeans who are moving a little slower.
“We all do the same security checks and processes, but we were able to speed them up thanks to Brexit.”
Dr Bull, who is deputy leader of Reform UK, formerly known as the Brexit Party, also cited the rollout of the vaccine as one of the notable successes of Brexit.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Bull said: “I think there have been some really notable successes [of Brexit].
“Actually, as a doctor, what really, really strikes me is the fact that because we have decoupled from the European Union, we have been able to get Covid vaccines much, much faster. .
“And actually what I don’t think people realize is that you didn’t need to uncouple to do that, but I think, given the fact that we had severed our relationship with the European Union, it gave us the confidence to go ahead and buy these vaccines.”
Under EU law, the UK had been allowed to act independently to approve the vaccine in an emergency since 2012.
It is estimated that over a 15-year period the deals will increase the size of the UK economy by £200-500 million.
The government is also negotiating with countries such as India, Mexico and Canada to conclude other agreements this year.
Dr Bull added: “I think one of the other things to consider is [that] if we’re an independent sovereign nation and all that stuff about ‘taking back control’ then clearly we need to rethink Britain’s place in the world.
“And the fact is that trade with Europe was declining to the UK and yet we were crippled by their rules and regulations.
“And the UK government started doing trade deals. I think it’s something in the region of £760 billion worth of trade deals.
The total value of UK trade it was involved in in 2020 was £760bn, although the majority of these deals were in place before Brexit and have been rolled over.
The politician continued: “I’m a big fan of the Commonwealth and think the ones with Australia and New Zealand are particularly relevant.
“And then of course by 2022 [I hope] we can secure them with India in particular ‒ from my point of view, India currently manufactures a third of the world’s medicines, by 2050 India will manufacture half of the world’s medicines.
“So why on earth would we do deals with declining European countries when I would much rather do deals with places like India.
“Mexico is another very interesting country, and within the Commonwealth, Canada, and of course the United States, is a very important market.