‘World-beating jingoism’: Gavin Williamson sparks Twitter fury by calling UK ‘much better’ than US & EU due to Pfizer jab approval
UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has landed in hot water after he lauded his nation as “much better” than others, citing its swift approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, earning himself ridicule on social media.
A barrage of criticism was unlikely to be what Williamson expected as he pompously declared the UK to be “a much better country than every single one” of other Western nations like France, Belgium or the US.
Speaking to LBS radio host Nick Ferrari, the British minister claimed that his nation became the first in the world to clinically approve the jab, which was developed by US and German companies, supposedly because it has the best scientists and is just as good in every other aspect.
“I just reckon we’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulators,” he said. But commenters on Twitter appeared not to share this sentiment; far from it.
"This is not a football competition."Good job @GavinWilliamson isn't in the Foreign Office, as his claims of UK #vaccine superiority rustled a few feathers, with the EU Commission's spokesperson calling out Britain's bouts of jingoism.READ: https://t.co/uTEBTrSfPJpic.twitter.com/bGE7l3GQ1a— RT UK (@RTUKnews) December 3, 2020
There was no shortage of comments declaring the minister’s statements nothing but a manifestation of nationalistic arrogance and jingoism. Williamson particularly received a bitter rebuke from London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who called his words “jingoistic nonsense.”
"This is jingoistic nonsense": Sadiq Khan responds to Gavin Williamson's comments that the UK approved a Covid vaccine first because "we're a much better country" than France, Belgium and the US. pic.twitter.com/FD620zszAt— LBC (@LBC) December 3, 2020
world beating jingoism!— John Vivian (@jcvivian14) December 3, 2020
Jingoism at its worst...Why not something on the guaranteed brexit Perfect (shit) Storm coming in January? https://t.co/3cgAIijAnl— Michael M. 🇨🇭🇳🇴🇮🇸🇱🇮🇬🇧 (@vivamjm) December 3, 2020
Some noted that, judging by the epidemic situation in the UK itself, the nation might have gotten the jab first not because it was “much better” but rather because it was “much worse” than others, at least when it comes to tackling the disease.
Using Williamson's own criteria, the number of deaths in the UK must prove that we are a much worse country than France, and Belgium (not the US, obviously). What a facile boast, the sort of thing you hear in a playground, not from an MP on national radio.— Michael Woods (@mikewcdx) December 3, 2020
Brits got it first, because of how badly they're doing in controlling Covid 19.So exactly the opposite of what they're claiming— Mari Evans FBPE 🎪 (@ma66ri) December 3, 2020
Others ridiculed Williamson’s statement, noting that the UK had nothing to do with developing the vaccine itself, since it was developed by other nations.
The UK approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ahead of its own jab, which was developed by the British-Swedish AstraZeneca company and Oxford University, and showed an “average” 70 percent efficacy amid some puzzling results presented by its developers and a statement by the CEO saying it would be trialled again.
A vaccine from a German based company with scientists who emigrated from Turkey, manufactured in Belgium ..... meanwhile this jingoistic bullshit. 🤡. Global Britain 🇬🇧 give me strength.— Tim Worrall (@Timworrall) December 3, 2020
And the scientists were Turkish immigrants, all the UK did was but it. Now, question is did they fast track this to get it into the country before the predicted chaos of brexit from January?— Alright Squire (@SquireAlright) December 3, 2020
Others argued that London could not boast being the first to approve the vaccine, since it was arguably EU regulators, who are still in charge in the UK, that allowed such a swift approval in the first place. Some lamented that the UK is about to lose access to this regulative mechanism as it fully leaves the union – another thing which commenters blamed on a British false sense of superiority.
Hahahahaha. It was approved here thanks to the fact that we’re still using EU EMEA resources! Next month won’t be too good...— Mayonia (@Mayonia) December 3, 2020
So, no. It wasn't because of #Brexit.We could ALWAYS rely on Article 5(2) of the Medicines Directive 2001/83/EC, and that's exactly what MHRA did.The SPEED was down to the rich data set they had at their disposal. Nothing at all to do with rules or politics.#ToryLies#LBCpic.twitter.com/i5WaFrTu7C— KT happy for 🇺🇸 PARKER ʕ•͡ᴥ• ʔ🐝🐝🐝 (@lunaperla) December 3, 2020
Yet another fine example of English exceptionalism on display for everyone to see.It is exactly this kind of nonsense which convinced people into voting for Brexit.— Mark O'Kelly (@MarkOKelly10) December 3, 2020
Some took aim at Williamson personally, saying it should be “everyone’s concern” that he is the man in charge of the nation’s education. Others jokingly suggested giving him “his own show,” suggesting the more exposure he got, the more likely the Tory government would be “hounded from office.”
What an utterly ridiculous statement. The fact that this man is in charge of education should be a concern to everybody— Jurgen 👨🏻🦯 (@mrjd1984) December 3, 2020
Please give Gavin much more air time. Give him his own show. The more exposure this man has the better chance we have of the Tory government being hounded from office.— #RestoreTheWhip 😷Rab Nesbitt😷 #Κύριε_ἐλέησον (@blepharon) December 3, 2020
The British public generally showed little appreciation of the UK politician’s overly patriotic statements.
On Wednesday, the nation’s business secretary, Alok Sharma, faced similar backlash on social media after he said the UK had “led humanity’s charge” against the pandemic by approving the Pfizer vaccine. Earlier that day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock vowed to get the jab live on TV to prove it is safe.Also on rt.com ‘The day UK led humanity’s charge against Covid’: Tory MP Sharma mocked for over-the-top cheer as London approves foreign vaccine
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