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Johnson's move to shorten Brexit debate faces backlash

Pharma opposed to no-deal, but backs pro-industry plans

brexit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday unveiled plans to suspend Parliament in September, a move narrowing the time MP opponents will have to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. 

Parliament will be suspended just days after MPs return to work next Tuesday 3 September, with the suspension potentially lasting from Monday 9 September (and no later than Thursday 12 September) until Monday 14 October, just weeks before the Brexit deadline.

During the suspension, known as prorogation, no debates and votes are held. The move will cut just a few days from the total Parliament would normally sit, but opponents say the move is an affront to democracy and an attempt to steamroller through a no-deal Brexit.

A Queen’s Speech will take place following the suspension on 14 October, and will contain the prime minister’s legislative agenda, across education and other non-Brexit policy areas.

The prime minister says there will still be time to debate Brexit in October, though hopes that an alternative solution to the Irish backstop will emerge and allow a new deal to pass look far-fetched.

Johnson’s decision to use prorogation has been met with a fierce backlash from opposing MPs, who have labelled the move ‘undemocratic’.  While many of the country's national newspapers have backed the move, the move also prompted protests across the country, with a petition for Parliament not to be suspended reaching more than 1.1 million signatures.

John Bercow

John Bercow has commented in opposition to the prorogation

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who does not traditionally comment on political announcements, said that the move was a “constitutional outrage”.

However, Leader of the House and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was one of three Conservative MPs who took the request to the Queen on behalf of the prime minister, said it was “a completely proper constitutional procedure”.

Following the news, the pound fell about 0.5% against both the euro and the US dollar on Wednesday, with £1 now almost equal to the euro at €1.10.

The shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner has said that it will now be “extremely difficult” for Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit going ahead, which will no doubt create further consequences for the British economy.

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has faced continuing disapproval from the life sciences industry, who have voiced concerns regarding disruption to medical supplies and a negative long-term effect on drug research, funding and collaboration with the EU.

Earlier this month, chief executive of the ABPI Mike Thompson said:

“Pharmaceutical companies have been doing everything in their power to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU, including increasing stocks and planning alternative supply routes where possible. But some things are outside of their control."

Sidestepping the constitutional crisis, James O'Shaughnessy, a Conservative member of the House of Lords and former health minister, tweeted this morning to highlight promises of new initiatives to help the life sciences sector post-Brexit. He called on the planned Queen’s Speech to prioritise increased funding for research, bring in uncapped immigration for life science jobs and other measures to boost the sector.

Happy to steer clear of political controversy in public but keep the sector's needs prominent, the message was retweeted by Novartis UK managing director and ABPI president Haseeb Ahmad, and 'liked' by Pfizer's UK's managing director Ben Osborn.

jos

Former Health Minister James O'Shaughnessy comments on planned Queen's Speech

Article by
Lucy Parsons

30th August 2019

From: Healthcare

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