Boris Johnson's Attempt To Silence Brexit 'Gloom-Mongering' Is Torn Apart
On the third anniversary of Brexit, Boris Johnson has attempted to paint the withdrawal from the EU as a major boost for the UK – but immediately faced pushback over a questionable claim.
Taking to Twitter, the former prime minister urged people to “shrug off all this negativity and gloom-mongering” about Brexit despite dire warnings about the UK economy.
On the same day, the International Monetary Fund said Britain’s productivity will be worse than every other major country in 2023. Even Russia – hit by swingeing economic sanctions by the global community due to its invasion of Ukraine – will do better, the IMF said.
Undeterred, the man who formally led the UK out of the bloc promised the “opportunities are huge”.
“Let’s shrug off all this negativity and gloom-mongering that I hear about Brexit. Let’s remember the opportunities that lie ahead, and the vaccine roll-out proves it,” he said.
In a social media video, he insisted the UK’s coronavirus vaccination roll-out was as rapid as it was because “we’d taken back control” of the Medical Health Regulation Agency (MHRA).
“We were able to license that vaccine faster than any other European country and that gave us a crucial edge,” he said.
“So today, on Brexit Day, as we look back at that vaccine roll-out, let’s also look forward to all the other ways in which we can change our country and our economy for the better.”
Time to turn the tables on the gloom-mongers, and exploit the benefits of Brexit. Remember that vaccine rollout! Happy Brexit Day! pic.twitter.com/kiRbCFcQFW
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 31, 2023
Was the vaccine roll-out really a Brexit win?
Fact-checkers have repeatedly argued Brexit do not help with the quick expansion of Covid-19 vaccines.
In December 2020, then health secretary Matt Hancock claimed the process was more easy because of Britain’s exit from the EU.
“We do all the same safety checks and the same processes, but we have been able to speed up how they’re done because of Brexit,” the health secretary said in December.
But he was shot down by British officials who made clear the strategy had nothing to do with Brexit, and took place under European law.
At the time, the MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said that “we have been able to authorise the supply of this vaccine using provisions under European law”, which then remained in place.
And Kate Bingham, head of Johnson’s vaccine taskforce, said the speedy approval in the UK had “nothing to do with Brexit”.
She said the UK’s faster approval of the vaccine was to do with the decision-making process at the British MHRA and that staff prepared well.
Bingham said: “It had nothing to do with Brexit… but that we were organised.”
I notice that the one thing you rely on to prove that Brexit has real benefits is actually a massive and well proven lie. That seems somehow appropriate.
— Parody Rishi Sunak (@Parody_PM) January 31, 2023
I won't bother with the general desperation of this. The key point is that the central premise, that we approved and rolled out the vaccine quicker because we'd left the EU, is utter cobblers. We could have done it at speed in the EU too. Have a link:https://t.co/ksH5QFGzHLhttps://t.co/3aGHdFQi6D
— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) January 31, 2023
So Boris Johnson again makes this claim about UK's quick vaccine rollout only being possible because of Brexit. Even a cursory search will tell you this claim has been regularly debunked, and found to be *false* by journalists at BBC, France24, Channel 4, etc etc... https://t.co/E4iY5Bwzvh
— David Mac Dougall (@davidmacdougall) January 31, 2023
He's hedging his bets on the Vaccine rollout to prove that Brexit has been a success.
We could have achieved the same kind of rollout inside the EU.
This is nonsense and goes to show that no matter how bad things get, they'll always just lie to your face about it. https://t.co/A7TAuljjhc
— European Movement UK (@euromove) January 31, 2023
This of course is not correct ... https://t.co/jwbrwiOvd5https://t.co/VXZMu7geYe
— Alexis Conran (@alexisconran) January 31, 2023
Johnson’s remarks also contrast with recent polling suggesting growing unhappiness with the way Brexit has turned out and disputes continuing over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
While the IMF’s World Economic Outlook did not mention Brexit, economists did link the dire forecast to exiting the single market with the UK’s largest trading partner.
Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are a few things which are affecting us more than other countries; one in particular actually is the loss of people from our labour force.
“We’ve heard quite a lot about the fact that we’ve lost 500,000-plus people from work, people retiring early, immigrants not coming in from the European Union and so on. That’s not affecting any other country in Europe.”
This reply to Johnson perhaps sums it up
— Cold War Steve (@coldwarsteve) January 31, 2023