Time is running out.
Events are moving so quickly in Westminster that it is hard to predict exactly what will unfold over the coming weeks. It will however be blindingly obvious to anyone watching the Prime Minister’s Statement on Thursday that her deal cannot pass the Commons. Accompanied by a string of resignations from government, the DUP and hard Brexiteers have united to pledge to vote it down. The simple truth is that there is no majority in Parliament for any of the options; not for this negotiated deal, not for a Norway style EEA or Canada plus trade deal and not for crashing out with nothing. Yet that is where we could end up by default. At the time of writing, we are just 134 days from running out of road and falling out of the EU with no deal and no transition. The consequences would be disastrous.
No version of Brexit can benefit the NHS
A Doctors prognosis
As a former GP and medical teacher, I am proud to chair the cross Party Health and Social Care Select Committee. Over the past few years we have been hearing evidence about the potential impact of Brexit. We have heard loud and clear from the overwhelming majority of witnesses that Brexit is bad for our health. It won’t only harm patients but also research, social care and public health, as well as for the workforce on which these depend.
No version of Brexit can benefit the NHS, only inflict varying degrees of harm. We cannot have the fantasy Brexit that was peddled during the referendum campaign, only the Brexit reality which is now much clearer. There will be no Brexit bonus for the NHS, far from the £350m a week, there will be a Brexit penalty.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research have recently released a report on Brexit and the Health and Social Care Workforce in the UK, highlighting the vital role of EEA nationals across our health and social care sector alongside the threat to recruitment and retention as a result of Brexit.
Just over 5% of the regulated nursing profession, 16% of dentists, 5% of allied health professionals and around 9% of doctors are from elsewhere within the EEA. We cannot afford to lose or further demoralise those who have given so much to our health service. The consequences of No Deal and crashing out without a transition period would be grave for medical supplies and for scientific research as well as for the local and national economy.
If you were about to undergo surgery, you would expect to know what the operation involved and to be informed about all the risks and benefits. It’s called informed consent and no decent surgeon would go ahead without it. Brexit certainly is major surgery with far-reaching consequences and the government is trying to proceed without giving people the opportunity to weigh up the pros and cons and deliver their verdict on the actual deal that was negotiated. It is time for a People’s Vote on the final deal with an alternative choice to remain
We have more information now…
At the time of the referendum the choice was simply to leave or to remain. The type of Brexit was not on the ballot paper, which is like a surgeon asking their patient to consent to an amputation in two years’ time without either of them knowing whether this would involve a few toes or their whole leg.
We all have the right to make risky decisions and it is possible that given a People’s Vote the public would come to the same conclusion to leave the European Union. To proceed without informed consent, however, is grossly unethical.
Lastly, the UK National Crime Agency is now investigating whether Arron Banks was the true source of an £8m donation to a campaign to leave the EU.
This was the biggest donation in British political history and undoubtedly influenced the referendum result. Banks has not explained its source. If any of this came, even indirectly from foreign powers with a strategic interest in breaking up the EU that would have profound implications for validity of the referendum. I will continue to campaign for a Peoples Vote.