UK’s Covid response hailed as ‘major Brexit benefit’ in new poll

Gove says Brexit prep made UK better prepared for Covid

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove claim that the UK’s planning for a no-deal Brexit “enhanced” the UK’s ability to respond to the Covid pandemic has been backed by two-thirds of readers, a new poll has shown.

Mr Gove said during his evidence at the UK Covid Inquiry last week that the work of the civil service around Brexit meant that the country was “more match fit” to deal with the pressure of COVID-19.

He explained: “The nature, the pace and the intensity of the work undoubtedly placed pressure on individuals and the system but it also ensured a greater degree of match fitness for what none of us anticipated but what was to come the year after.

“I would argue that the skills acquired, honed and refined during EU exit preparation helped us not only to have an organisational system that was better in dealing with the crisis but having a cadre of people who’d been through an intense process that enhanced their ability to respond.”

Mr Gove was Cabinet Office minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster at the outbreak of the pandemic, and he concluded: “Preparation for the EU exit was some of the best preparation we could have undergone for any future crisis.”

READ MORE: Michael Gove says Brexit planning made Britain better prepared for Covid

In response, ran a poll from 9.30pm on Friday, July 14 to 9.45am on Monday, July 17, asking readers: “Did Brexit preparations ‘help’ the UK’s pandemic response?”

Overall, 1,620 votes were cast with the vast majority of readers, 66 percent (1,076 people), answering “yes” they did. Whereas 32 percent (523 people) said “no” and a further 21 people said they did not know.

Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers discussed Brexit’s impact on the pandemic.

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Many readers agreed with Mr Gove, with username ‘neveranswered’ crediting Brexit, writing: “We were able to act fast making our own decisions.”

Similarly, username FlameStrike said: “Brexit definitively helped when dealing with it all in the sense of flexibility and without being held back in the same way, and to the same extent and degree that the nations of the European Union were.”

Username justmy2cents agreed, commenting: “Our independence allowed us to react swiftly, and change course based on the latest available information – and without being bound by any EU restrictions. This ability to react was one of the very first major benefits of Brexit.”

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While giving evidence to the inquiry last month, Scotland’s former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit caused “significant resources” to be transferred away from a “range of other matters”.

She said: “I deeply regret any consequences that had for our emergency planning in other areas.”

Others agreed with Ms Sturgeon that Brexit did not aid the UK’s response, with username I_am_I writing: “No Deal Brexit planning didn’t seem to help the Government plan for Brexit, much less anything else.”

And username ByeNow said: “They’re completely different issues with no overlap.”

The UK’s Covid Unquiry is a public inquiry into the country’s response to the outbreak of the pandemic and the lessons learnt from it, with hearings expected to continue until 2026.

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