Coronavirus vaccines should be labelled with the Union flag, Downing Street have reportedly demanded.
Number 10’s Union unit, which formulates Scotland policy and strategises ways to combat support for independence, is said to have recommended the Oxford University vaccine bear the flag.
Boris Johnson’s aides are said to have hoped underlining the British success of the Oxford vaccine would boost affection for the Union and, abroad, “Global Britain” as the UK prepares to break from the EU to trade around the world.
Number 10 said there were no plans for the Union flag to be on doses, but did not deny that the request had been made.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “There are no plans for the Union Jack to be on doses
“Manufacturing for some of the leading potential vaccines is already under way so they can be rolled out quickly if approved.
“Manufacturers are well-versed in the best way to package products like this.”
‘A bizarre revelation’
Gordon SNP MP Richard Thomson branded the plans “bizarre”, he said: “This is a bizarre revelation and thoroughly revealing of the mindset of those at the heart of Downing Street’s campaign to try and save the union.
“We’re not talking about food, where it’s important for products to stand out on the shelves and for customers to know what they are buying. I’m pretty sure people will care far more that the vaccine works successfully than about what the box it comes in looks like.
Politicising a vaccine isn't going to save the union. The last thing we need is a repeat of party-political stupidity we've seen in the US over measures like mask wearing. https://t.co/tIerqPs9LS
— Ged Killen (@Gedk) November 27, 2020
“It is, or should be, perfectly possible for governments both to govern well in a pandemic and to plan carefully for potential future constitutional changes.
“With a ‘no-deal’ Brexit looming ever larger and growing numbers of restless backbench MPs, this is yet another sign that Boris Johnson’s government is increasingly incapable of doing either.”
Former Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen added: “Politicising a vaccine isn’t going to save the union. The last thing we need is a repeat of party-political stupidity we’ve seen in the US over measures like mask wearing.”
The comments came as Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC she would seek a second independence referendum “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish parliament.