Downing Street has tried to plaster Union Jacks on the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine in a bizarre attempt to fight calls for Scottish independence.
Boris Johnson’s newly formed “Union unit” wanted the injection kits to bear the British flag, according to HuffPost UK.
No. 10 reportedly asked the government’s vaccine task force to insist that manufacturers of the vaccine – which is being developed alongside pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca – use the Union Jack.
The plan reportedly has strong backing from health secretary Matt Hancock and business secretary Alok Sharma – despite Downing Street saying that there were no plans to emblazon doses with the flag.
A government spokesperson said: “Manufacturing for some of the leading potential vaccines is already underway so they can be rolled out quickly if approved.
“Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this.”
It comes amid growing support in Scotland for a second independence referendum, which Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC she would seek “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish parliament.
The SNP is on course to win the 2021 Holyrood elections – with ministers reportedly very concerned about the spike in support for independence since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Oxford and AstraZeneca have said they intend to conduct additional global trials to assess the efficacy of the vaccine – after doubts were raised about the reliability of some of its original results.
Scientists in the US expressed concern about the way that the trial was undertaken, after it emerged that results showing the shot was 90 per cent effective in a sub-group of trial participants was stumbled upon by accident.