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Brexit's odd timing with vaccines Brexit's odd timing with vaccines
by Thanos Kalamidas
2020-12-05 11:43:27
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Without doubt most conversations about Brexit’s day-after are filled with speculation from both sides, however the feeling is that there is a critical element which will critical influence the outcome and this is timing, despite the fact that Brexit has been building up for decades.

The end of December doesn’t bring the end of the days for Britain neither the good old empire back. For most people will be life as usual and yes you might find a few things more expensive in the supermarkets but then again who needs French roquefort when you can get blue cheese from Wales and who cares about Greek feta when you can get white cheese from Yorkshire. Not exactly the same but you can get used to them.

bobre001_400_01And while a lot of the talking the last few years has been about roquefort and feta in the end Brexit means too many other things that won’t touch everyday life but will dramatically change life in UK and again it has to do with timing. The best example on what is going to happen is what happened the last few days with the Pfizer/BioNTech anti-coronavirus vaccine.

Boris Johnson celebrated UK’s quick access to the vaccine as a result of Brexit and independence of the British authorities from the EU regulations. This is half true, because while it is true that the British authorities could overstep EU regulations and approve fast forward the vaccine, much faster than the rest of the EU states and USA who still wait for the approval but what he doesn’t say is that Britain might had to wait for all the EU countries to get it first before seeing the lorries arriving in Dover if Britain was not still member of the EU!

Actually, UK might receive the first lot of the vaccine in record time when it comes to the second lot in the beginning of 2021; this is going to be a whole new story in just too many levels. First of all: the price. Johnson has often overly pride the deal he made with Pfizer/BioNTech (among other pharmaceutical companies and their vaccines) about the price and he got it now in the prize agreed but from January 1st 2021 and not a member of the EU any more he will have to add in the price he agreed to, export and customs fees. That will immediately vaporize any meaning of a good deal and most likely the vaccine will cost to UK much more than it will cost to any other EU member country. 

Then it is about transportation, delivery and quantity. The essence of the Union is that European citizens and their wellbeing are prioritized. Then it is Pfizer/BioNTech. While Pfizer is an American company, BioNTech, the pharmaceutical research partner and actual producer of the vaccine, is German, based in EU and under control of the EU laws and regulations. Therefore, while Americans might enjoy a special treatment due to a trade deal, UK will not. Transportation, delivery and quantity have to be regulated by EU authorities and priorities and there is not yet trade deal between EU and UK. Actually UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit.

So, you see is not about roquefort and feta or even cueing in airports for passport control, something that Brits can survive but the fact that travelling to EU – 60% for business or pleasure destination for Brits a year – will become more expensive in just too many levels and not always directly. While additional custom fees will be added to the travellers, plane tickets will go more expensive because British airlines will have to pay extra fees as non-EU member airlines for e.g. parking or refuelling. Actually all British transportation companies (airplanes, trains even taxis) will not be competitive in EU. And this was just an example.

All UK companies will not be competitive in EU, including car industry and while mini Cooper – especially the new electric one – is still popular in EU nobody will buy in the price of a new eclectic Porsche. Parenthetically, WV, SEAT, Skoda and FIAT will still remain cheaper in UK even compared to the British made mini Cooper. And in the era of an economic dystokia all this works perfectly fine for the EU companies and industry, definitely not for the UK.

However these are only few examples of changes that might not alter dramatically everyday life but will change Britain to the worst without saying anything about employment which is a huge issue and covers from worker rights to unemployment and have absolutely nothing to do with the …Polish plumber. And all these might have worked differently if there wasn’t a global recession that goes on the last ten years and has already hit hard UK, worsen by an uncontrollable for the financial world pandemic and a populist government.

Oddly, if Brexit had happened in the middle of Tony Blair’s era – despite my personal disgust for the man – it would have somehow worked. An era of improving economics and optimism globally. It might have even worked during the first Cameron year; but now? The timing is so bad that in fact Britain just lost the only person who has shown some signs of support, US president Donald and Biden – the coming US president - has already cautioned UK that no-deal Brexit is not going to be welcome and is neither going to make easy a future trade deal with USA.

A period in time and history where unions bring strength, UK is going to sail in the ocean alone with an old, battered sail and with a captain who acts like he’s riding a skateboard.

And the ocean is deep and very dangerous place this time in history, Mr Johnson.

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