The UK’s decision not to participate in an EU scheme which could have provided much-needed ventilators to intensive care units was politically motivated and not down to a communication error, it has been revealed.
Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Committee this afternoon, permanent under secretary Sir Simon McDonald admitted that ministers were briefed about the EU schemes on offer, and actively chose to turn them down.
He said: “It was a political decision. Brussels briefed ministers about what was available, what was on offer, and the decision is known.”
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson previously dismissed the scheme before rowing back to claim that blame an e-mail error.
At the time they said: “Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to join in four joint procurements in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
But days before health secretary Matt Hancock had claimed the government was engaging with the invitation.
Michael Gove later claimed that the UK did not need the ventilator scheme “as an independent nation”, claiming experts had assured him that the country could source its own ventilators without joining the initiative.
The government prioritised its own image over the country’s health
Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith told The New European: “If it was a political decision not to join Europe-wide schemes to bulk-buy PPE and other essential medical equipment, then the government prioritised its own image over the country’s health.
“That decision has been disastrous. Frontline workers deserve much better.
“We urge the government to seek participation in future schemes as soon as possible, so we can source the medical supplies Britain’s hospitals and care homes desperately need.”