Boris Johnson claims Brexit ‘saved lives’ in the pandemic

Former British prime minister also warns that a Labour government would be too close to the European Union

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson has claimed Brexit “saved lives” during the pandemic by allowing the country to speed up its vaccine rollout.

In an interview on Friday night on Talk TV conducted by his close political ally Nadine Dorries, he also warned that if the Conservatives relinquished power to Labour, Britain would be “sucked back into the orbit” of the European Union.

In the same week Britain marked the third anniversary of its exit from the EU, Mr Johnson said Brexit allowed its medicine regulators to more quickly approve the first Covid vaccines in late 2020.

“It is literally true that Brexit helped save lives. And people’s eyes bulge a bit when you say that, but it happens to be true ... Had it not been for the fact that we’d come out of the European Medicines Agency, the MHRA, [Britain’s] medical health regulation agency, was now totally free to decide how fast to approve the vaccine. We wouldn’t have been able to do that vaccine rollout so fast,” he said.


Mr Johnson was also bullish about his party’s prospects at the next general election, which must be held before January 2025, despite it being more than 20 points behind Labour in opinion polls.

“Old Sir Crasharooney Snoozefest, the human bollard – [Labour leader] Keir Starmer, that is – he thinks that he’s going to get people to vote Labour just by standing there and doing nothing,” Mr Johnson told Ms Dorries, who served as a minister in his government and was one of his staunchest defenders. She has a new show on Talk TV, a new station owned by Rupert Murdoch.

“It’s not going to happen. The economy will start to improve, inflation will come down, people will reward the Conservative party, they will reward the Government for being sensible, for cutting their taxes and for getting things done.”

He also called on the government led by his successor, Rishi Sunak, to do more to help Ukraine in its war against Russia: “I tell you this, Nadine, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we gave some more tanks ourselves.”

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times