12:42 GMT19 April 2021
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    Brussels has come under fire recently over the powerful European Commission's insistence on centralising COVID-19 vaccine supply under its control — and the resulting snail's pace of the rollout compared to post-Brexit Britain.

    Fewer Britons would vote to rejoin the European Union (EU) than to stay out, a new poll has found.

    The latest data from pollster YouGov showed 41 percent backed remaining independent of the 27-nation bloc compared to 39 percent who want to jump back in, with the remainder saying they were unsure, wouldn't vote, or just declining to answer.

    The survey, conducted in mid-February but not yet published, showed a sharp drop in support for going back into the bloc since last November, when 47 percent were in favour and 38 percent against.

    Excluding the "don't-knows", the latest results closely reflect the 52 to 48 percent vote to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

    The EU and its powerful Brussels-based Commission have faced harsh criticism this year over the slow pace of its centralised coronavirus vaccine procurement and distribution programme.

    The UK, which left the European Medicines Agency as well as the EU in January 2020, has given at least one dose to a third of its population of over 66 million — five times the proportion of EU residents vaccinated. As of Monday the UK had given over 22.5 million first doses and almost 1.2 million booster shots.

    Richard Tice, who recently took over as leader of Reform UK — formerly the Brexit Party — from Nigel Farage, dubbed Remainers-cum-Rejoiners "an irrelevant declining cabal of extremists, who clearly would prefer British people die rather than have vaccines soonest when we need them".

    Being stuck aboard the EU's lumbering vaccine "tanker" would be one of "the many penalties of rejoining the bureaucratic monster of the EU", Tice said.

    The poll also found that 42 percent of British respondents said they did not identify as European at all, far higher than residents of the other surveyed countries Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden.

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    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, YouGov, Brexit, Brexit, European Union (EU)
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