Michael Gove launched a scathing attack on the European Commission in Parliament this afternoon, indicating that its erratic behaviour towards Britain and Northern Ireland over vaccine supplies had eroded trust between Britain and the bloc.
In response to an urgent question calling on the Cabinet Office minister to issue a statement on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Mr Gove took aim at the European Commission:
“Article 16 exists for good reasons. But it had meant to be invoked only after notification, only after all other options are exhausted and in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.
“Mr Speaker, none of these conditions were met. Worse still, neither the UK government representing the people of Northern Ireland, nor the Irish government – an EU member – were informed.
“The Commission’s move has provoked anger and concern across all the parties and throughout civil society in Northern Ireland, as well as international condemnation.
“Following the reaction, the Commission did withdraw its indication of Article 16 and subsequently clarified in conversations with the prime minister that it would not interfere with vaccine supplies to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“But trust has been eroded, damage has been done and urgent action is therefore needed.”
European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen refused to apologise for EU’s conduct last week in a group interview with European reporters on Tuesday, instead choosing to attack Britain for authorising vaccines too quickly.
She also ruled out resigning, calling on critics to judge her performance at the end of her term in office.