Sadiq Khan accuses Gavin Williamson of spreading 'jingoistic nonsense'

3 December 2020, 12:02 | Updated: 3 December 2020, 13:41

By Sam Sholli

Sadiq Khan has accused Education Secretary Gavin Williamson of spreading "jingoistic nonsense".

The Mayor of London was specifically responding to Mr Williamson today telling LBC that the reason the UK was first in the world to approve a Covid vaccine, ahead of places like the EU and the US, is because "we're a much better country."

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK on Wednesday by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), paving the way for mass vaccination to start as early as next week.

The jab has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups but needs to be stored at minus 70C - a factor which the Prime Minister admitted will provide "immense logistical challenges" when it comes to distribution.

The London Mayor responded to the "unnecessary" comments on LBC's exclusive phone-in Speak to Sadiq.

He told James O'Brien, "This is jingoistic nonsense..this guy is the person responsible for education in our country", adding, "the good news for us Londoners is he's not a Londoner."

He continued: "What this politician is doing is typical English jingoism that I think is unnecessary and what it does is it just leads to a sort of 'us versus them' that we don't really need."

Mr Williamson has already received backlash on Twitter for his comments to LBC's Nick Ferrari from politicians including the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and Molly Scott Cato, and also Labour politician Seb Dance.

Ms Lucas had some particularly strong words: "This from a Government minister - it’s pathetic. The kind of thing you’d hear in the playground. Maybe that’s why he’s Education Secretary."

SAGE adviser Jeremy Farrar also took exception to the comments, Tweeting: "Vaccine nationalism has no place in COVID or other public health matters of global significance.

"Science has always been the exit strategy from this horrendous pandemic - that science has been global & has needed an unprecedented global partnerships & global financing.

"Public health interventions, vaccines, diagnostics & treatments now starting to be available because of those partnerships. Every single one come about by work across borders.

"Vaccines made possible by science & support of so many. No country could have delivered these vaccines."