Baroness Judith Jolly writes…Brexit must not put public health at risk

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health, Baroness Jolly, asks for your support on a crossbench Public Health amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which will be debated at Committee Stage in the Lords on Monday.

Fellow Peers and Liberal Democrat supporters. Whatever your stance is on Brexit, an issue on which we can all unite is the health of our nation. That is why I will proudly stand alongside fellow Peers next week to make the case for a ‘Do No Harm’ amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

The amendment was tabled by ex-Health Minister Lord Warner (Crossbench) and will be supported by co-signatories to the Bill, Labour frontbench spokesperson for health, Lord Hunt, and Crossbench Peer Lord Patel who previously chaired the Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS Committee. While we are all co-signatories to the amendment, we have welcomed a significant amount of support from Peers across the House and we will be strongly encouraging them all to speak in support of this amendment next week. We already have strength in numbers and together, we can make sure that Brexit will do no harm to the public’s health.

This amendment acknowledges that we have made huge progress in public health during our time in the EU and, as we leave, this Government and future governments are committed to ensuring we do not roll back from that progress.

This is an opportunity for Peers who wanted to remain in the EU to mitigate their concerns about the impact Brexit might have on the public’s health and ensure there are vital safeguards on the face of the Bill. It would also signal to EU members that the UK remains committed to maintaining our public health agenda to the high standards we have already established in partnership together – because ultimately the public health agenda is most effective when it can operate well across borders to similar standards, priorities and expectations.

On top of this, it’s a chance to quell the nervousness of businesses – both in the UK and around the world – that this and future governments are committed to building a post-Brexit economy based on maintaining the current high levels of health, wellbeing and productivity within our workforce.

But it is also an opportunity to bring the whole House together because this amendment and the reassurances that come with it should be something on which we can all unite. Even Peers who are keen to exit the European Union as soon as possible should welcome this amendment – especially because it very deliberately does not seek to permanently preserve EU law and regulation. It would be for British courts, on the basis of our doctrines of parliamentary sovereignty, to decide the future interpretation of the law. And for those Peers who want us to leave, this is an opportunity to demonstrate to Parliament, the health community and the public that there is nothing to fear from Brexit in terms of the future health of the nation.

It isn’t just an opportunity to unite the House though. It’s also a chance to reassure those who remain extremely nervous about Brexit.

In this unprecedented time of political flux, this is the perfect opportunity for the Government to reassure the increasingly-nervous public that there’s nothing to fear from Brexit by giving them reassurance of their commitment to protecting their health.

Fellow Peers: please join myself, Lord Warner, Lord Hunt and Lord Patel in supporting the ‘do no harm’ amendment after Clause 9 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill on Monday 19th March. If successful, this understated but life-saving piece of legislation will protect the health of future generations. Please also tweet your support to @jollyjudith using #DoNoHarm.

* Baroness Judith Jolly is Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Health and Social Care.

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