BORIS Johnson has made a plea to Donald Trump for life-saving ventilators to treat patients with coronavirus after failing to take part in an EU scheme.

The US president said on Saturday the appeal came when he spoke with Mr Johnson on Friday, the day the Prime Minister tested positive for Covid-19.

Downing Street initially said it did not take part in an EU scheme to source ventilators because the UK was “no longer a member” and was “making our own efforts”.

But after critics accused Boris Johnson of putting “Brexit over breathing”, a No 10 spokesman clarified that it had missed out because of an error and would consider participating in future. It is understood the UK claims not to have received an email from the EU asking it to participate.


Mr Trump talked of his conversation with the Prime Minister as he announced he had compelled motor firm General Motors to carry out federal contracts for ventilators.

"We are working with the major ventilator companies in the US...and they will be working 24 hours to accomplish a historic ramp up and if we make too many that is going to be okay, because I spoke with the Prime Minister of the UK yesterday and before I was even able to get a word out of him, I said, 'how are you doing,' he said,'we need ventilators'.

"The UK needs ventilators. A lot of countries need ventilators badly. It's a tough thing to make. It's a very complicated and expensive piece of equipment.

"I hope we will have enough that we can help other countries."

The president spoke while giving his update on the Covid-19 crisis from the USNS Comfort hospital ship in Norfolk, Virginia. It is heading to New York City to assist with the coronavirus pandemic effort there.

It is claimed the ventilator mix up means the UK has missed out on benefiting from the collective buying power of the EU.

The UK has decided to source ventilators from British manufacturers who have never made the products before. Dyson, the household appliance firm, said it had received an order for 10,000 machines.

The government was further accused of missing out of up to 25,000 ventilators by failing to respond to an offer from a British firm.

Direct Access, a company based in Nantwich, Cheshire, and supplier to the NHS, contacted the health department early last week after acquiring an initial 5,000 ventilators. It followed up two days later with an additional offer of 50 million coronavirus testing kits.

But its email went unanswered, despite further appeals, and the ventilators were snapped up by other countries.

A UK government spokesmas said after the mix up: “Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to join in four joint procurements in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the commission has confirmed, we are eligible to participate in joint procurements during the transition period, following our departure from the EU earlier this year.

“As those four initial procurement schemes had already gone out to tender, we were unable to take part in these, but we will consider participating in future procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time.”

Earlier New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared said he was unaware the president was weighing up a regional quarantine.

Mr Cuomo in his daily press briefing  was asked about comments made by Mr Trump as he left the White House for a visit to Norfolk, Virginia.

Mr Trump said: “We’re thinking about certain things. Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot … We might not have to do it, but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short-term, two weeks on New York. Probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut.

I’d rather not do it, but maybe we need it.”

Cuomo said he spoke to Trump earlier about a US navy hospital ship being deployed to New York City and four temporary hospital sites. But he added: “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.”