Nicola Sturgeon quizzed on coronavirus focus by BBC audience
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And Michelle Ballantyne suggested thousands of live could have ended up being sacrificed on what she called the Scottish First Minister’s “virtue signalling”. Mrs Ballantyne was speaking after the publication of a new report by pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU, indicating the EU’s vaccination rate per 100 people – 50.3 – currently outstrips the bloc’s (15.5) by more than three to one.
The analysis, based on figures from the Our World in Data website, indicates Britain is ahead of the US (42.9), and way in front of China (7.4).
Mrs Ballantyne told Express.co.uk: “The UK vaccine investment programme has shown not just the world but narrow nationalists at home the UK is a force for good while the EU is a threat to our lives and wellbeing.
“Had Scotland followed Sturgeon’s plan of signing-up to the EU vaccine approach the Scottish people would be way behind the rest of the UK with more lives, possibly thousands, sacrificed on the altar of her virtue signalling.
“Not only would the UK be talking of donating spare vaccines to Ireland it would be having to consider saving Scots from Sturgeon’s bad decisions too.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year opted not to sign up for the EU’s vaccine procurement plan, instead opting to go it alone.
At the time, the SNP’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, Dr Philippa Whitford, said: “At a time when the UK should be accelerating efforts to work with our EU partners towards finding a vaccine, it is concerning that the UK government has instead rejected the opportunity to take part in yet another EU-wide programme.
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“The UK government’s short-sighted and increasingly isolationist approach does nothing but hinder the ability to tackle the virus effectively.”
Constitution Secretary Mike Russell added: “This idiotic refusal is all about Brexit and nothing to do with the pandemic. It will cost lives.”
Similarly, Kevin Stewart, the Housing Minister, said: “This lunacy shows how ideological, inept and irresponsible the Brexiteer buffoons are.”
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However, figures published last month suggested had the UK thrown its lot in with the bloc, just 174,826 Scots would have had jabs by February 4, compared with the actual figure of 694,347 – a difference of more than 500,000.
Pressed on Mrs Whitford’s comments during an interview on Good Morning Britain last month, Mrs Sturgeon said: “I think there’s a bigger point but I’m not going to sit here and say anything other than I think it’s really good that the UK has managed to procure as much vaccine and that the UK as a whole is getting ahead in terms of vaccine.
“We all have an interest in seeing all countries get the populations vaccinated because this is a global pandemic but I think the UK is in a very strong position.
“That the vaccination procurement and the approval of the vaccines started while the UK was still in the EU transition period, the rules around the European Medicines Agency would have allowed that to happen anyway.”
Asked whether the UK’s success was a “powerful argument for Brexit”, she added: “Of course you can make that argument but sometimes I think it’s a slightly over-simplistic argument.
“But we should all be pleased that the vaccination programme is going so well.
“The issues around Brexit are much wider and more fundamental but even on this narrow point I think if you were to apply really detailed scrutiny it wouldn’t be quite that simple.”
As of today, well over 50 percent of the UK population has had at least one jab.
In the EU, squabbling is continuing, with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz breaking ranks this week in a bid to secure one million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
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