The Government has been accused of putting “Brexit over breathing” by refusing to take part in an EU ventilator scheme as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

No 10 has outlined its refusal to take part in the bloc’s initiative, which sees nations buy ventilators in bulk together in order to reduce cost.

The bloc indicated it would be open to the UK taking part but Boris Johnson’s official spokesman has ruled this out. 

“Well, we are no longer members of the EU,” he said when asked why the UK was not using the scheme. 

He pointed towards other efforts to secure ventilators, stating 8,000 had been ordered and are set to arrive in the coming weeks. 

Asked if the decision was related to Brexit ideology, the spokesman said: “No, as I say, this is an area where we’re making our own efforts.”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: “We can’t put Brexit over breathing; lives must come first.”

She called upon the Government to rethink its decision. 

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also criticised the decision not to take part in the EU scheme.

“With widespread concerns about our ventilator capacity and the urgent need to scale-up that capacity, we should be co-operating through international schemes to ensure we get these desperately need pieces of kit,” he said.​


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