James O'Brien reacts to EU's 'dangerous' behaviour in vaccine row

1 February 2021, 10:56

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien reacts to the "downright dangerous" behaviour of the EU on Friday - before it reversed its threat to put controls on NI vaccine exports.

On Friday the EU made a short-lived move to override part of the Brexit deal in order to control Northern Ireland vaccine exports.

The "dangerous" move, which has since been reversed, was made in response to a bitter row between AstraZeneca and the bloc over dose shortages.

AstraZeneca has since agreed to supply nine million additional doses of the Covid vaccine to the European Union during the first quarter, Brussels has said.

James said: "Those of us who remain quite rightly persuaded that leaving the European Union is going to cause us all manner of problems have absolutely no problem whatsoever in saying on Friday night, Ursula von de Leyen...behaved in a way that is almost beyond belief.

"Not just stupid but downright dangerous and displaying almost as much ignorance in regards for the Good Friday Agreement and customs union and Jacob Rees-Mogg demonstrated on this programme."

James branded the bloc's behaviour as "truly truly breathtaking."

"You wake up on Saturday morning as one of the country's few prominent Remainers and apparently you're expected to defend Ursula von de Leyen," James said, "you're expected to try and stick up for the European Commission's absolute disaster of a flirtation with putting a hard border on the island of Ireland."

James posited that people presuming others will defend "blind idiocy" is a consequence of people "blindly defending complete idiocy." He sums this up in a word he coined: footballification.

He continued: "It's projection in its purest form: I will defend Boris Johnson even as our death toll becomes the highest in the world by some measures. Therefore people who think Brexit is a bad idea are going to defend Ursula von de Leyen in the exact same way even if she does something almost beyond belief stupid."

James reiterated his point on Twitter: "I must confess to being mildly irritated by the widespread suggestion that opposing Brexit would somehow necessitate seeing the EU Commission's conduct last Friday as anything other than outrageous, dangerous & profoundly wrong."

Read more: Jeremy Hunt tells LBC the EU made a 'catastrophic misstep' over Article 16 U-turn