Realizing how controversial his comments could be if published, Johnson withdrew them almost immediately, according to the sources, saying, “Actually, I regret saying that … forget I said that.”
Johnson’s spokesmen have declined to comment on the matter to CNN.
An opposition Labor Party spokesman told CNN: “The idea that selfish acts … got us through this crisis seems very strange: it’s hard to find out where the prime minister is from there.”
Timing these comments could be problematic for the Prime Minister as the European Commission prepares to set out its plans for stricter export controls on block-made Covid-19 vaccines.
The Brussels vaccination schedule has been hampered by delivery and distribution problems.
The plans are also expected to include new powers that allow the EU to withhold supplies to countries that do not mutually export vaccines to the EU.
Heads of state and government from the 27 EU Member States will meet virtually on Thursday to discuss the Commission’s recommendations.
Heads of state and government from Germany and Ireland have already called for caution with export measures that would target countries.
The UK, which has chosen not to participate in the EU vaccination strategy, has launched its citizen immunization program much faster than the rest of the continent. Domestically, this has been cited by many as a result of Brexit and as an example of what can be done now when the country is free from the bureaucratic yoke of the EU.
The European Medicines Agency has been criticized for slow approval of vaccines. Other EU countries have therefore turned to Russia and China to close the gaps in the vaccine supply through unilateral procurement agreements.
The UK’s relative success has been embarrassing for the EU. Any complaint that the UK is not playing fair or suggestions for retroactive action can easily be described as a petulance from Brussels, an attempt to hold others responsible for one’s own mistakes.
However, Johnson’s greed comments could prove useful to a commission trying to unite member states and label Britain as the bad guy.
Which raises the key question: Why did Johnson say that?
Those in attendance hypothesized that the Prime Minister “clearly joked” a room of friends, having spent the entire meeting “praising AstraZeneca for not making a profit” and making suggestions that he “in one.” typical language “Boris spoke rambly way” and stumbled upon discussing how the left opposition Labor Party opposes any private investment in the National Health Service.
“I think he talked about the cuff and then suddenly remembered that he was prime minister,” a lawmaker present at the meeting told CNN.
However, it cannot be denied that the timing of his utterances is bad.
The introduction of the vaccine was a rare success in Johnson’s response to the pandemic.
The UK still has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.
Anything that interferes with the vaccination program and delays his plans to get the British out of lockdown could seriously damage the Prime Minister and his government at a time when they can afford a heavy blow – least of all from the European Union.