In comments during a radio interview on Thursday, Britain’s education minister claimed that the Uk obtained a coronavirus vaccine first because it is “a much better country than France, Belgium and the US.”

According to the BBC, citing a source close to the minister, Gavin Williamson’s intention had been “to praise the scientific brilliance of the regulator, but he is known to be enthusiastically patriotic and that enthusiasm clearly shone through in what was a broadly light-hearted conversation with the studio host”.

His relevant comments were: “I just reckon we’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulator, much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have. That doesn’t surprise me at all, because we’re a much better country than every single one of them.”

However tongue-in-cheek the minister’s comments might have been – assuming he did not mean them, they were bound to sit badly with the Europeans he singled out for criticism.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the UK’s experts are “very good” but “we are definitely not in the game of comparing regulators across countries, nor on commenting on claims as to who is better”.

“This is not a football competition, we are talking about the life and health of people,” he said.

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine bought by the British is made in Belgium.

Williamson served as Defence Minister in the previous Conservative government before being sacked.

FILE PHOTO: Gavin Williamson MOD