NEWS DIGEST 21.03.2021: Lockdowns and the EU vaccine dispute make things antsy in the UK

Good morning everyone, our news today comes from Google News. As the dispute between the UK and European Union over coronavirus vaccines lurches from one debacle to another, the UK itself is bidding to accelerate production of its homegrown vaccines, with the country’s business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng holding urgent talks with its minister of vaccines, Nadhim Zahawi, to get more vaccine supplies ready. There are fears that the UK and EU will use vaccines as a weapon in a political war of words which could negatively affect the drive to get more people immunised against COVID-19 – Bid to make more coronavirus jabs in Britain as EU ramps up pressure (The Telegraph Politics)

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Concerning the ongoing dispute, Britain’s right-wing Mail on Sunday wrote a comment piece this morning stating that the ‘EU elites’ had a seething resentment at the UK’s success and by withholding vaccines and banning the export of British products, they were hurting their people more and that the arguments were not ‘going to do anyone good’. Questions over the safety of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine have led to bans on import of the British-made vaccine in many major European countries, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that the vaccine was still safe to distribute and use. The article, penned by an unknown writer, also laid into the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, calling her ‘worrying erratic’ and condemned her Communist-style exhortations to seize stocks of the AstraZeneca vaccine and its manufacturing plants, and even overriding patents on the product – MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The EU elite’s seething resentment at Britain’s success hurts them more than us and does no one any good (Mail Online The Mail on Sunday Comment News)

In the UK, dissatisfaction among some members of the public over the third lockdown and its strict rules have led to protests in the heart of London, with the most recent one seeing ‘dozens of arrests’ as violence broke out and police were injured, according to one newspaper report. A protest this weekend saw people marching from Hyde Park to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Trouble kicked off and a total of thirty-six people were detained after some protesters allegedly began hurling missiles at attending police officers and then attacking the cops. Among those attending the march were controversial actor Laurence Fox and Piers Corbyn, brother of the former Labour Party leader Jeremy. A group of around 100 chased police vehicles, punching and kicking them, as they left the area. Many of the arrested were taken in by police for breaking coronavirus regulations, rather than disorderly conduct – Dozens of arrests as police are injured in violent protests in central London (Evening Standard UK)

The arrests took place while politicians in Westminster urged the government not to criminalise people taking part in the anti-lockdown protests, as long as they did so peacefully, however the Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, said that coronavirus regulations meant that it was illegal for people to organise or take part in public protests. Far more people than expected turned out for yesterday’s protest in central London’s Hyde Park. There were reports that families with young children were forced to flee the park as scuffles and running battles broke out between irate protesters and the police managing the protest. Many of the protesters, who were protesting against what they saw as overarching government control and disinformation during the lockdown from central government and the National Health Service (NHS) did not wear masks or keep a safe distance from one another. Some lit smoke flares and carried placards with anti-lockdown statements – Covid: Arrests during anti-lockdown protests in London (BBC News UK)

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