Oct 9, 2019

U.K. rushes to stockpile flu shots amid threat of no-deal Brexit

Photo: Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images

Distributing flu vaccines each annual season is a complex process, but the threat of a no-deal Brexit is only adding further complications, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: The prospect of the U.K. leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a withdrawal agreement has brought on fears of food and medicine shortages. That could mean lacking vaccines, leaving the elderly and young especially susceptible to the flu and other illnesses.

  • British officials are booking space on planes to help prevent delays and have opened an office in Amsterdam geared towards addressing regulatory hurdles.
  • The total cost to prepare for the potential situation has reached £10 million, or roughly $12 million.
  • Flu season generally starts in the fall, and a no-deal Brexit would take effect on Halloween if a deal isn't struck and the EU doesn't offer an extension.

Of note: The U.K.'s Parliament has passed a law that would require Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension from the EU if he is unable to strike a Brexit deal. Johnson, however, has said that he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than delay Brexit, and his comments in recent weeks have some speculating that the government might try to exploit a loophole to leave on Oct. 31 in defiance of Parliament.

What to watch: Most of the U.K.'s vaccine shipments for this flu season are set to arrive by the end of the month.

Go deeper: Northern Ireland's Brexit balancing act

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Boris Johnson sends letter to EU requesting Brexit delay

Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent Saturday evening an unsigned photocopy of a letter requesting the European Union delay Brexit, ITV News reports. He also sent the EU an "explanatory letter" from the United Kingdom's ambassador to the EU and a letter signed by Johnson making it clear he doesn't want a delay to Brexit, per the Guardian.

Why it matters: Johnson had said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than seek an extension. But he was legally required to send the Brexit delay request after the U.K. Parliament passed a law in September requiring him to seek a Brexit extension rather than crash out of the EU without a deal on Oct. 31.

Go deeperArrowOct 19, 2019

Nigel Farage says Brexit extension would be better than Boris Johnson's deal

Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told Sky News on Sunday that he'd prefer to extend the Brexit deadline past Oct. 31 in order to hold a general election than see Parliament pass the divorce deal struck by the EU and Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

"This is a rotten deal. ... I do understand because of Brexit fatigue and anger in the country the temptation to vote for it. But it is nothing more than Brexit in name only, it will not solve anything. This will not end things."
Go deeperArrowOct 20, 2019

Everything you need to know about Brexit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom shocked the world and voted to “Brexit,” or leave the European Union. After more than three years of uncertainty and fractured politics, the U.K. officially exited the EU on Jan. 31, 2020.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 29, 2019 - World