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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Now Brexit threatens our health

Yet another example of how Brexit threatens our way of life has been revealed by the English health secretary. As the Independent reports, Jeremy Hunt has admitted that EU cancer drugs may not be available to British patients after Brexit, describing the risk as “uniquely damaging”.

Hunt echoed fears already raised by the pharmaceutical industry by acknowledging that the flow of some medicines would be cut off if the withdrawal negotiations break down:

Drug giants have told of “significant disruption to the supply chain for medicines” and that customs delays would damage “time and temperature sensitive” materials, without a Brexit deal.

“It is uniquely damaging to both parties if we don’t come to an agreement,” Mr Hunt told an inquiry by the Commons health committee.

“It’s not just that want to continue to get cancer drugs that are manufactured in Europe. It’s Europeans who will not want any interruption to their supply chain for drugs that are manufactured in this country.”

Mr Hunt said it was the issue’s importance that gave him “a lot of confidence that we will be able to agree what we need to agree”.

Having attempted to reassure us the Health Secretary then threw doubt on Theresa May’s hopes of striking a transition deal to cushion the impact of EU withdrawal before April, warning it “may take a little bit longer”:

The stance will alarm business leaders, who have warned they will be forced to implement plans to shift part of their operations out of the UK without an agreement by the end of March.

This week, the CBI’s director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, pleaded with Theresa May to speed up the talks in order to deliver a transition deal within 70 days.

Companies badly needed the clarity that the Brexit talks were not heading for the rocks, or they would begin to move jobs and investment offshore, she said.

Failing to secure a deal would be an act of "great economic self-harm", imposing billions of pounds of costs on UK goods sold to and bought from the EU, Ms Fairbairn added.

It is the uncertainty that is most damaging and the fact that the present crop of Ministers don't seem to know how to resolve it.
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