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The armed forces may have to airlift the coronavirus vaccine to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a Government minister has suggested.

James Cleverly, a minister in the Foreign Office, said the Government was looking at “non-commercial” flight options to transport the vaccine when quizzed about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

It comes amid warnings of transport “catastrophe” at Britain’s borders if EU-UK negotiators fail to secure a new trade agreement soon.

Negotiations are currently on a knife edge, with Britain’s chief negotiator Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier continuing talks this morning just a few weeks before the end of the transition period.

Mr Cleverly was asked on BBC Breakfast to give reassurances that there would not be significant delays in getting the Pfizer jab from Belgium to Britain.

He replied: “Well, the vaccine is the top priority product in terms of bringing anything into the UK.”

Asked if the armed forces could be used to transport it, he replied: “So, potentially, we are looking at non-commercial flight options.

“This is such an important product, perhaps the most important product, so we will look to ensure that those supplies are available in the UK. In whatever circumstance.”

Pressed again on whether they would use the armed forces, he nodded and replied: “If we need to.”

According to a “worst case scenario” Brexit document, the flow of medicines and medical products could initially reduce 60 to 80 per cent over three months.

The document, obtained by ITV, says “if unmitigated” it would impact on the supply of medicines and medical products across the UK.

The largest-scale immunisation programme in British history will begin tomorrow morning when the first coronavirus vaccines are administered.

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