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UK sets aside £2.1bn for more no-deal Brexit prep

£434m for medicine continuity

Brexit

The UK government has said it will make another £2.1bn in funding available to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, a 100% increase in its earlier provision.

The money is earmarked for critical medicine stockpiling, adding 500 border force officers and upgrading infrastructure at the UK’s ports, and a campaign to try to get smaller businesses prepared for the disruption that will ensue.

£1.1bn is being made available straight away, with another £1bn on the table “if needed,” according to Chancellor Sajid Javid, who said: “With 92 days until the UK leaves the EU it's vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready.”

All told, £434m is being made available to “help ensure continuity of vital medicines and medical products,” says the government.

Some of the new funding is a “repeat prescription,” according to the BBC, will be used to reserve cross-Channel ferry capacity and specialist warehousing and stockpiling that wasn’t needed after the extension to the last Brexit deadline.

The announcement has prompted a backlash from several quarters, with Shadow chancellor John McDonnell describing the increased funding as an “appalling waste of tax-payers' cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson's drive towards a totally avoidable no-deal.”

In total the Treasury has made £6.3bn available to prepare for Brexit including £4.2bn this financial year alone.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, is quoted in the Guardian as saying: “Just because Boris Johnson is making it sound like he’s fighting a war, with seven-days-a-week meetings in Whitehall, that is not licence to spend taxpayers’ money like water, throwing good money after bad.”

The committee has said it intends to launch an investigation into the government’s spending on Brexit contingency planning.

The new allocation nevertheless adds to the sense that leaving the EU without a deal is much more likely under Prime Minister Johnson and his new pro-Brexit Cabinet, even though there is still much speculation whether he can do so without the explicit backing of Parliament.

With a working majority of just two – assuming the government can count on the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party – and mutterings among Tory backbenchers who oppose no-deal, there are likely to be plenty more twists in the Brexit tale in the coming months.

The BioIndustry Association, representing UK biopharma companies, said earlier this week that the supply of medicines “is the government’s number one priority so more resources and focus to ensure patients and public health are protected will be welcomed by the life sciences sector. But we will continue to advocate for no-deal to be avoided at all costs.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st August 2019

From: Healthcare

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