France accuses Britain of vaccine ‘blackmail’

France accuses Britain of vaccine 'blackmail'
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In some ways you have to admire the sheer shamelessness of the French government. To spend the start of the year slagging off the AstraZeneca vaccine before threatening the seize those very same jabs showed a degree of brazenness that excelled even the usual French standards. But to accuse the UK of blackmailing Paris and her European neighbours must be the peak of Gallic gall. 

The French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke to a radio show this week in which he criticised the UK's vaccine programme. He told listeners: 'You can't be playing like this, a bit of blackmail, just because [the UK] hurried to get people vaccinated with a first shot.' He then denounced the British government's plan to ensure that it... meets medical standards and administers citizens with their second shot. Eh? What exactly would monsieur Le Drian be doing if he had been fortunate enough to have a functioning vaccine procurement scheme? 

This would, by the way, be the same French government that has talked up EU threats of commandeering European vaccine factories if the bloc doesn't get the jabs they feel they deserve. Now your humble diary reporter isn't an expert in Napoleonic jurisprudence, but that threat seems to have the whiff of something that isn't too dissimilar to what one might call 'blackmail'.

Mr S almost thinks Le Drian was taking le pipi when he told listeners: 'We need to build a co-operative relationship... But we cannot deal this way.' 

C'est la vie, c'est la vaccine guerre...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to