“It is absolutely clear that because we’ve left the EU I was able to change the law so that the UK alone could make this authorisation decision.”

Matt Hancock, TalkRADIO

December 2, 2020

Facts

Discussing vaccine approval in an interview on TalkRADIO Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is absolutely clear that because we’ve left the EU I was able to change the law so that the UK alone could make this authorisation decision.”

Even if Britain were still a member of the EU, the UK regulator would have been able to take this decision on its own because EU law already allows it. This legislation took effect in the UK in 2012, long before Brexit was on the cards.

A UK government press release from 23 November 2020 spelt this out in terms. “If a suitable COVID-19 vaccine candidate, […] becomes available before the end of the transition period, EU legislation which we have implemented via Regulation 174 of the Human Medicines Regulations allows the MHRA to temporarily authorise the supply of a medicine or vaccine, based on public health need.”

The Head of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) said: “We have been able to authorise the supply of the vaccine using provisions under European law which exist until 1 January.”

See the full report from Channel 4 FactCheck.

Verdict

The health secretary was one among several British ministers who wrongly claimed that Britain could not have authorised the vaccine so quickly had we remained in the EU. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg made a similar false claim here.

When we asked Matt Hancock to respond to the claims laid out in this website, a spokesperson said: “This list is false, wildly inaccurate, and in some cases possibly even defamatory. For example claiming that some of Matt's claims in the Commons were in defiance of the ministerial code, when they were in fact accurate. The priority throughout this unprecedented pandemic has been saving lives.” 

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