Ahead of the G7 summit, British PM Boris Johnson has drawn ridicule for an article in which he seemingly invokes wartime bonhomie to state his vision for a post-Covid world built on “openness, freedom, democracy and free trade.”
Among the priorities Johnson lists in the article, published on Thursday, is a pledge to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022, reduce carbon emissions, fight loss of biodiversity and fund the education of 40 million girls by 2025.
In addition, Johnson and US President Joe Biden will draw up a successor to the ‘Atlantic Charter’ – a 1941 agreement between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to redraw the world after World War II – that “underscores” the trans-Atlantic commitment to NATO, “dispel any sense of gloom” and protect “allies on Europe’s eastern flank.”
However, the focus will be on the “framing of a new global treaty on pandemic preparedness so the world is never caught out in the same way again,” promises Johnson, who pledged to donate “millions” of Covid-19 vaccines from “surplus UK stocks.”
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The bulk of that commitment is expected to come from the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca vaccine, which is yet to win approval from US regulators despite large-scale trials. In addition, the European Union temporarily suspended its use in March while some countries have stopped using it entirely – owing to the shot’s suspected links to the incidence of rare, but deadly, blood clots.
Johnson notes with pride that thanks to a “deal done between the British government, Oxford scientists and AstraZeneca,” the vaccine accounts for “95%” of the total stock distributed by COVAX, a global vaccine alliance that provides the shots “at cost” to low- and middle-income countries.
“This is the moment for the world’s greatest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected,” Johnson states.
Noting that the county of Cornwall, where the summit is hosted, had “administered more vaccinations than 22 African countries combined,” Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, countered that there would be “no end in sight until rich countries stop hoarding vaccines, stop supporting pharma monopolies, and start facing up to their international obligations.”
More vaccines have been administered in the english county of #Cornwall, which hosts the #G7 summit this weekend, than in 22 African countries combined.Shocking vaccine inequality and why we need a #PeoplesVaccine, not a profit vaccine.https://t.co/kn97tYeb1i
— Steve Cockburn (@stevecockburn) June 10, 2021
A number of social media users queried the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against emerging strains, in particular the reported ‘Delta’ variant, of the virus and warned that Britain is “being judged” due to Johnson’s decisions.
What about the Delta variant? It's going to spread & you have been warned that link between deaths&delta infections has not been entirely broken if at all by Oxford vaccines. Excess deaths in UK & of starvation in Africa due to your decisions? Global Britain is being judged.
— Louise Lowry (@LouiseLNHS) June 10, 2021
Another Twitter user likened Johnson’s vaccine pledge to “leftovers” in comparison to the announced US purchase of 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses to be distributed to 92 lower-income countries through COVAX.
Other users criticised Johnson for indulging in an “Empire 2.0 fantasy” and neglecting “treaty commitments” after his contention that Britain was the “buckle that fastens, the hyphen that joins everything together” in terms of the “breadth of our capabilities and friendships.”
Biden's team will spell out the realities for Johnson but unfortunately (as with the situation in NI) he will not listen, does not understand the complexities & doesn't really care. He believes 'optimism' & rhetoric will make his Empire 2.0 fantasy a reality. It won't, of course.
— Oldlongdog #ReBootGB (@oldlongdog) June 10, 2021
So @BorisJohnson & @POTUS are set to agree to a new “Atlantic Charter“, apparently modelled on statement made by Churchill & Roosevelt in 1941 on the post-war world order. Very loftyWhat about HMG's EU treaty commitments & NI Protocol? pic.twitter.com/O4BKXXcjOU
— Mujtaba Rahman (@Mij_Europe) June 9, 2021
“It is somewhat ironic that Boris Johnson is discussing a new ‘Atlantic Charter’ intended to defend democratic values with Joe Biden today when most of what Boris Johnson does is intended to undermine democracy and the rule of law in the UK,” tweeted Richard Murphy, a co-founder of the Green New Deal eco-sustainability group.
A significant number of users also called out Johnson’s “hypocrisy” to “pontificate” about climate change while flying to Cornwall instead of using other modes of transportation.
Herr @BorisJohnson arrives in Cornwall by private jet from London in order to pontificate to the world that the #ClimateCrisisHoax is #FakeNews, and the plebs must not get on a plane, or even drive their car because #ClimateCrisis. The hypocrisy is a fucking disgrace. https://t.co/t0DgLU4Bja
— FreedomPreets🏳️ (@FreedomPreets) June 10, 2021
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