Brexit will lead to EU ‘disintegration’ says Yanis Varoufakis
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The Greek economist brilliantly hit out at the European Commission, accusing it of acting like it was “on the payroll of Brexiteers with a remit to justify Brexit”. Mr Varoufakis added that it has been a “comedy of errors” in the bloc, branding the EU’s behaviour “astonishing”.
The former Greek finance minister insisted the UK would have been “hamstrung” over vaccines if it had not been for Brexit, which saw Britain cut ties with Brussels at the end of the year.
Mr Varoufakis told News Week: “The EU Commission has been behaving as if they were on the payroll of Brexiteers with a remit to justify Brexit, it is astonishing, it’s a comedy of errors in Brussels.
“It’s as if it was designed by Eurosceptics in order to sanctify Brexit, it’s very difficult to argue against Brexit now if you look at the vaccination fiasco.
“You have eight times more people vaccinated in Britain as we speak than in Germany, don’t talk about Greece.
“It’s clear that Britain would have been hamstrung in that department had it not left the EU.
“Had it stayed in the EU you would have had to abide by the rules we Greeks have to abide by, the approval of the vaccines would have taken months longer than it did in the UK, you would have one-tenth of the vaccinations that you have so it is to Brexiteers’ delight what has been happening in the EU.”
The ex-finance minister compared the EU’s vaccine farce to the Eurozone crisis, accusing the bloc of “trying to cover bad decisions by making worse decisions”.
And he admitted there is “a little bit of egg on my face” after he argued against Britain leaving the EU – a decision Mr Varoufakis now says he regrets.
He said: “Everything I now hear from Brussels is now so reminiscent of what was going on during the Euro crisis, the blame game, the Commission trying to cover bad decisions by making worse decisions, disarray, nationalism, fragmentation, I fought against Brexit, but I have to say there is a little bit of egg on my face as we speak because I can’t, in all honesty, say to you that I don’t regret supporting Remain five years ago, it would be dishonest of me to say that.”
The EU has faced intense criticism over its slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, the UK is pushing ahead with its programme which has seen more than 15 million people receive their first jab.
Brussels plunged itself into an extraordinary row with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over supply shortages last month.
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The EU sparked a huge political fallout when it moved to override part of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland to prevent the export of vaccines out of the bloc.
It was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after briefly triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The move led to a major backlash from London, Belfast and Dublin.
Article 16 overrides part of the protocol which prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland, and was intended as an emergency measure only.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen issued a grovelling apology last Wednesday.
Speaking in the European Parliament, Mrs von der Leyen said: “The bottom line is that mistakes were made and the process leading up to the decision, and I deeply regret that.
“But in the end we got it right.
“And I can reassure you that my Commission will do its utmost to protect the peace in Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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