- President Emmanuel Macron plots to stop exports of jobs to Britain
- AstraZeneca vaccine doses scheduled for the UK were diverted from Holland instead
- A government source said the dosage diversion was ‘outrageous’
France has been reported to have ‘stole’ nearly five million coronavirus vaccine doses that were earmarked for Britain.
President Emmanuel Macron earlier this year conspired with EU chiefs to halt the export of jobs to Britain.
A large batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines expected to arrive in the UK were diverted from Holland at the last minute, the sun reported.
Britain’s ties with France and Brussels soured in March when domestic vaccine roll-outs broke ahead of the European Union.
Mr Macron falsely claimed the AstraZeneca jab was ‘semi-ineffective’, while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen threatened to block the Pfizer vaccine from being shipped to the UK.
On 22 March, AstraZeneca boss Rudd Dober said a batch equivalent to several million doses was expected to arrive from its production site in Holland.
However, this never came to fruition and was instead switched to an EU-wide scheme.
A government source told The Sun that the dosage diversion was ‘outrageous’ and tantamount to ‘actions of war’, which could ‘cost lives’.
AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to reports, France ‘stole’ about five million coronavirus vaccine doses that were earmarked for Britain. President Emmanuel Macron is said to have conspired with EU chiefs earlier this year to stop the export of jobs to Britain.
Britain’s ties with France and Brussels soured in March when domestic vaccine roll-outs broke ahead of the European Union. Image: Mr Macron with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in June
“The French stole our vaccines at the same time they were publicly dispensing them, suggesting they were not safe to use,” the source said.
‘It was an outrageous thing and not an aide’s action, which was made very clear to them.
‘Preventing vaccines by preventing them from leaving the EU had the potential to cost lives with people waiting for both the first and second types.’
In March, EU leaders threatened to impose export restrictions to block shipments of a second vaccine dose to the UK.
At the time, France suggested Britain did not have enough doses to deliver a second dose of the Pfizer jab, indicating that the continuation of the rollout was at the mercy of EU supply chains.
Brussels then accused AstraZeneca of reneging on its contract to supply the block with 120 million doses in the first quarter of this year.
Hardcore EU countries justified their support for halting shipments of the vaccine by accusing the UK of failing to export any doses to the continent.
On 22 March, Astra Zeneca boss Rudd Dober said that a batch equivalent to several million doses was expected to arrive from its production site in Holland.
Throwing his weight firmly behind the sanctions at the time, Macron said: ‘Europe is not a selfish continent.
‘Because when I read what the press writes on the other side of the channel, we are being accused of being selfish. Wrong! We left our supply chains untouched.
‘But we saw that the United States defends its own vaccine production … that the United Kingdom did not export that many doses. Actually, none. So we have put in place an export control mechanism.
When the French president questioned the effectiveness of the jab and Ms von der Leyen accused the UK of cutting corners in its approval, many Europeans shunned the vaccine.
Fears that the Astra Zeneca jab caused blood clots led many European countries to stop its use.
It is the latest in a row after Brexit that has rocked the channel and strained the UK’s ties with France and Brussels.
French fishermen on Monday threatened to cut off Christmas supplies to Britain by blocking both the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
He accused the UK of creating a complicated and difficult application process and failing to give them enough permits to make a living.
“If negotiations fail, we will stop all French and European products reaching Britain, and we will stop all British products reaching Europe,” said Olivier Lepretre, head of the powerful Northern France Fisheries Committee.
‘Until Boris steps back, Britons won’t have so many good things to eat this Christmas. I hope it doesn’t come to that.’
French fishermen have given Britain a two-week deadline to grant licenses to operate in British waters before easing the barrier (file photo of fishing boats at the port of Le Guilvinec in June last year)
The threat is part of a wider row over channel fishing rights, which erupted in May when Britain dispatched two Royal Navy gunships to Jersey after dozens of French fishing boats vowed to block the island’s harbour. .
Britain has granted fishing rights to only 12 of the 47 small French vessels in British waters.
British officials say the deniers were unable to prove that they had fished six to 12 miles of sea area in the years before Britain left the European Union.
But French fishermen say the small boats are not equipped with the right technology to prove their historic fishing links and locations.
The Jersey government added to the French crisis last week as it announced it had turned down license applications by 75 French fishing boats.
In a statement, it said that of the 170 boats that had applied, 64 were being granted licenses, with 31 obtaining provisional licenses to allow them more time to show that They have a track record of operating in its waters.
Jersey Foreign Minister Ian Gorst said the island’s government had taken a “practical, reasonable and evidence-based approach” to the issue.
French fishermen last night threatened to cut off vital Christmas supplies to Britain. Image: French fishermen protest earlier this year
Fisherman today gave the UK a two-week deadline to be granted a license to operate in British waters before blocking the Channel Tunnel.
Trade between the ports of Dover and Calais is estimated to be around £100 billion each year.
The flow of goods between the two accounts for almost a quarter of the UK’s major port traffic with the EU, according to a 2019 University of Hamburg study on the effects of Brexit.
The French Connection: How Lightning Crosses the Channel
The two under-sea cables of the Interconnection France-Angleterre (IFA) supply enough electricity to the UK to power three million homes – more than the total amount generated by British wind farms.
IFA 1 connects Kent and Pas de Calais, while IFA 2 connects Fareham in Hampshire and Caen in Normandy.
Their electricity interconnectors use high-voltage cables to connect the distribution systems of neighboring countries, and allow them to share excess power.
The landing point for IFA 1 is Folkestone, from where underground cables connect to the Selindj converter station and then to the UK transmission station.
However, it was damaged by fire last month, leading to a hike in electricity prices amid fears that electricity prices may not increase by 100 per cent until next March.
IFA 2 went live in January and could bring in 1.2 percent of the UK’s energy.
As well as the French connection there are similar cables connecting the UK to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway.
Meanwhile, French Europe Minister Clement Beaune has warned that the dispute is putting Britain’s electricity supply at risk.
‘The Channel Islands, UK, depend on us for their energy supply,’ he told Europe 1 radio station yesterday.
‘They think they can live on their own and defame Europe as well. And because it doesn’t work, they indulge in one-upmanship, and in an aggressive manner.’
Jersey and neighboring Guernsey depend on French power and two undersea cables also provide electricity to more than three million homes on the British mainland.
Europe’s Minister Clement Beaune warned that other EU governments could take punitive measures against Britain, such as imposing tariffs.
‘Just already, we have an agreement negotiated by France by Michel Barnier, and it should be implemented 100 percent. That’s not happening,’ Mr Byun told Europe 1 radio.
‘Over the next few days, and I spoke to my European counterparts on this subject yesterday, we will take measures, either at the European level or at the national level, to put pressure on the United Kingdom.’
He said: ‘We protect our interests. We do it well and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures.
“For example, we can imagine, since we are talking about energy, … the United Kingdom depends on our energy supply,” Bunin also said. ‘It thinks it can live alone, and curses Europe.’
But a cabinet minister told MailOnline yesterday that Mr Beain was making empty threats – indicating that ties would break if France took such an action.
“If France cuts off our electricity supply, we will never use them again,” he said.
‘Why would you ever go to a provider that did this? Trust will be gone. They will harm themselves in the long run.
The IFA (thick line in green) is one of a series of power interconnectors between the UK and other parts of Europe.