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Brexit: our position

The National Health Action Party is committed to campaigning for a second referendum on the UKs membership of the European Union. The National Health Action Party is also convinced that it is in the best interests of the UK to remain inside the European Union.

We recognise that the European Union is not a perfect institution, nor is it a catch all solution to the many social, economic and political problems the UK faces today. However, we also know beyond doubt, that Brexit will be bad for the NHS and bad for the country.

The UK is heavily dependent upon skilled EEA labour in the healthcare sector. Brexit has had, and will continue to have, a hugely negative impact upon the UKs ability to recruit and retain skilled – and much needed – EEA staff.

The UK has also been a beneficiary – and contributor – to the invaluable sharing of knowledge and best practice within the scientific and medical community. These links, networks and programmes are vital – and will continue to be so – for the UKs future ability to fight disease and care for an aging population.

The treatment of serious conditions – such as cancer – is dependent upon the UKs ability to acquire sensitive biomaterials and nuclear isotopes that have to cross European borders. Large amounts of NHS infrastructure – such as IT servers – are also stationed in other European countries and would have to be relocated in the event of Brexit.

One of the defining features of the campaign to leave the European Union was the promise that doing so would allow people to “take back control”. But it is clear that a hard-Brexit which sees the UK trading on World Trade Organisation terms will prevent the public from exercising democratic control over vital public services – such as the NHS – as they will be privatised through International Trade Agreements (ITAs). These are underpinned by Investor State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms (ISDSM) – corporate courts which allow private companies to litigate against sovereign governments for implementing public policies that damage profit margins: such as re-nationalising the NHS.

We do not believe that the vote to leave the European Union can be solely placed on the promise of an extra £350million a week for the NHS. However, it is undeniably clear that concern for the NHS – and this particular pledge – was indeed a motivating factor in people voting to leave the EU – and that this pledge cannot be honoured in the event of Brexit.

The National Health Action Party has been consistently clear that leaving the EU will not solve the problems facing the NHS or the country. Years of failed neoliberal orthodoxy lay at the root of the UKs current social, political and economic crisis.

The privatisation of the NHS is something that has been promoted domestically by both past and current Conservative governments, as well as previous Labour governments. The fight for a properly funded NHS that works in the interests of all, and which provides care on the basis of need, will not be helped by Brexit. Nor will our wider public services benefit from a non-existent Brexit dividend.

Therefore, if contrary to current expectations, a deal is passed by Parliament and ratified by the EU, then a clearly and unambiguously worded referendum must be held to determine whether the people accept that deal, or prefer to remain in the European Union.

If Parliament is unable to accept a deal, then a clearly and unambiguously worded referendum must be held to determine if the people want a ‘no-deal’ Brexit or to remain in the European Union. If Parliament fails to pass a Bill to allow a referendum on the above terms, the NHA will campaign for:

  • Britain to remain in the customs union and in the single market
  • frictionless trade of medicines and medical devices across borders,
  • continuation of all collaborative health protection policies and health science research programmes,
  • citizens’ ongoing freedom of movement within the European Union, and
  • negotiation of additional time to ensure relevant deals can be completed
  • EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in Europe must be included as eligible voters for any referendum described above.

Ends

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