“We lacked the madness to say, let’s do it,” said President Macron last week, explaining the EU’s misfiring vaccines programme. “The British had more ambition.” Finally Macron is admitting the truth, says Thomas Kielinger in Die Welt. History explains why the British are streaking ahead. Britain is a seafaring nation; risk and uncertainty define its character. It is quicker off the mark than societies that seem to live on safe ground.”
The British have always “believed in a touch of madness”. Take Lord Nelson on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar: “Nothing is safe in a sea battle. Something has to be left to chance.” Churchill’s chances of success against Hitler could not have been slimmer. Brexit, too, poses plenty of risks for Britain – “other countries would not have had the nerve to take that gamble”. And the way Boris Johnson rang up Kate Bingham: “Stop people from dying!” Asking someone he barely knew to run the vaccines procurement programme “is typical of the way business gets done in Britain”. But his comment last week that Britain’s vaccination success was down to greed wasn’t just a faux pas, it was wrong. It was the public and private sectors working together “to reach for the stars”, free of Germany’s “parliamentary cretinism” or French statism. As Pericles said: “The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.”
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