According to Michael Gove, the Prime Minister has made it clear that the UK’s supply of coronavirus vaccines will not be cut in a dispute with the EU.
He said the government expected coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca to be shipped to the UK after speaking with the EU chief.
The cabinet minister told reporters: “The prime minister was very clear.
“We have contractual agreements with AstraZeneca and Pfizer and we expect these agreements to be honored.
“And President von der Leyen was aware that she understood the position of the British government very well. We therefore expect these contracts to be honored – we expect vaccines to continue to be supplied.”
“Of course we will work with them (the EU) to ensure that their own problems can be addressed.
“Our first priority is vaccinating people in the UK, but we also want to work with our friends and neighbors in the European Union to help them.”
Mr Gove said the EU recognized that it had made a mistake in triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol and agreed that a “reset” of relations was needed.
He told reporters: “I think the European Union recognizes that they made a mistake in triggering Article 16, which would have meant reintroducing a border on the island of Ireland.
“But now the European Union has resigned.
“I spoke to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, about this and we agreed that we need a reset, that we need to put the people of Northern Ireland first.”
He added, “We are confident we have assurance that the shipment we procured will be the shipment we paid for.”
Mr Gove said it had been made clear between Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen that the vaccine supply would not be interrupted.
The cabinet minister told reporters: “We are confident that we can continue our vaccination programs exactly as planned.
“Last night the Prime Minister spoke to President von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and made it clear that we must properly comply with the contracts that have been concluded.
“And it was made clear that this supply would not be interrupted so that we can continue with our plans and ensure that our previously very successful vaccination program can continue.”
In the meantime, Mr Gove and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic have agreed that their priority is to avoid disruption in Northern Ireland.
After a call, they both tweeted, “Our shared priority is to make sure the protocol works for the people of Northern Ireland, to protect the achievements of the peace process and to avoid disruptions to everyday life.
“Jointly committed to redoubling our efforts to address unanswered questions.”