Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
21 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

UK not joining EU ventilator scheme was a “political decision“, senior civil servant confirms

By Samuel Horti

The UK took a “political decision” not to join a European Union scheme for stockpiling and distributing medical equipment including ventilators, the foreign office’s top civil servant has confirmed, in comments that contradict what cabinet ministers have previously said.

Both Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove have said the UK did not join the scheme because of a communication issue. But Sir Simon McDonald, foreign office permanent under-secretary, told the foreign affairs select committee today that ministers had been fully briefed on the scheme.

“It was a political decision. The UK mission (UKREP) briefed ministers about what was available, what was on offer and the decision is known,” he said.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them