LibLink Christine Jardine: Hard Brexit makes these people fear for their lives

The headlines about the Government stockpiling medicines in the event of a hard Brexit will pass most people by. They’ll dismiss it as Project Fear.

For people with serious long term health conditions, it’s all pretty scary, though. They know that they could well pay the price of right wing Tory Brexiteers’ folly.

Christine Jardine has a friend with Diabetes, who tells her story in Christine’s Scotsman column, describing how she came close to death when he system got out of balance after a  stomach bug:

After 48 hours alone, dehydrated and struggling to breathe – with sky-high blood sugar – I called an ambulance. “I had become so dehydrated my body was no longer absorbing insulin. I lay in the back of an ambulance, unable to drink water unless it was lacing my lips from a sponge on the end of a stick. I was without insulin.

“Wheeled into high dependency, I grasped the consultant’s hand and asked her if I was going to die. “It was a real fear which I now feel again as I think about what crashing out of the EU might do for my health, and others.

“Every morning as I reach for the milk, I glimpse my insulin in the fridge door. “It used to mean nothing. Now, every morning, every evening, I consider how much I could go without. If I give up carbohydrates and sugar completely, how much Novorapid (the type I take to deal with carbs) would I really need? Could I possibly even change my diet so I needed nothing?

“But then there’s Lantus. That keeps me alive over the course of 24 hours. Latent. In the background. But always there. How little would I need? What could I survive on?”

Christine outlined what she intended to do about this:

For too many people, that fear is real. For too many people, an ideological argument about our relationship with the European Union is now about their health. That, for me, is completely unacceptable.

And the crucial factor is not how serious any shortage might be, but that the fact of stockpiling is causing a genuine and justifiable fear for so many people.

Another constituent visited me this week to express his fears and to ensure that I was aware of the seriousness of the situation. I gave him a commitment that I would do whatever I could, as often as I could, to draw attention to and raise awareness of the situation.

More than that, I will hold the UK Government to account for the chaos and fear they have provoked.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • Does anyone seriously think EU will stop selling the UK medicines and if they did we would just buy from a third party. The insulins mentioned are freely available all around the world?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Aug '18 - 1:38pm

    It can be for good reasons people are afraid, yet it is not just a case of pro EU but anti also. I was dependent on a cream for a skin condition years ago, it was EU regulation meant the manufacturer was no longer allowed to source an ingredient from outside the EU until the country could prove it met the standards, result, no cream for me and real stress then for ages. Under no circumstances should we believe this organisation is a panacea, nor a villain.

    What happened to Liberalism as a measured and evidence based view? We do not yet have certainty any of these scenarios are going ahead, but must ensure they are alleviated and systems serve us, not us the systems.

  • Paul – you might as well say the EU will make it difficult to sell their cars and wine to us. Why would the EU want to make it difficult for their companies to sell their goods to one of their biggest markets? Why would the UK want to make it difficult for medicines to reach their citizens? There will be little or no problems with customs for goods coming in from the EU, even if there are problems going the other way.

  • Of cause you could buy from another source Malc and that never goes wrong. O dear perhaps if does and perhaps it has

    The infections were principally caused by the plasma derived product known as Factor VIII, a medicinal product that was sourced from the United States and elsewhere. The creation of such products involved dangerous manufacturing processes.[4] Large groups of paid donors were used (as many as 60,000 per batch, and including prisoners and drug addicts); it only required one infected donor to contaminate an entire batch, which would then infect all of the patients that received that material.[5] In contrast, this was at a time when the practice of paying donors for whole blood in the United States had effectively ceased; the UK did not import whole blood[6] from abroad, but it did import large quantities of Factor VIII given to haemophiliacs (as described in the documentary Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal). It is said that the principle reason that the UK imported these products was that it did not produce enough of its own.[7][8]

    A study published in 1986 showed that 76% of those who used commercial Factor products became infected with HIV, as opposed to none of those who only used previous treatment, Cryoprecipitat

    So feel free to trawl round the world for replacement medicines Malc, just don’t be surprised if problems occur. It’s different now I hear you say times have change that can’t happen now; alas Malc it can and it will.

  • marcstevens 11th Aug '18 - 5:51pm

    Yes just the chlorine bleached chicken the USA are waiting to sell us. No thanks give me EU standards any day and always when it comes to medicines and food products.

  • Malc 11th Aug ’18 – 9:49am:
    Does anyone seriously think EU will stop selling the UK medicines and if they did we would just buy from a third party. The insulins mentioned are freely available all around the world?

    Indeed. The only people likely to be taken in by this hysterical nonsense are the same people who’ve been fooled all along: the chronically gullible.

    Insulin is made in the UK by Eli Lilly near Basingstoke and Wockhardt in Wrexham.

    We will continue to import from the EU using the same procedures that we already use for half our imports. There are no tariffs on pharmaceuticals in the EU tariff schedule. We will be retaining this.

    Once out of the EU on World Trade Organisation terms we can import whatever we want to whatever standards we set subject to charging no more than our stated tariff and treating goods from all WTO members equally. Under WTO terms there is no requirement to maintain a customs border at all.

    This applies to medicines just as it does to other goods. We do not need an agreement to import them nor are there any WTO requirement for inspecting them. The standards to which they need to conform will be entirely under our juristiction. Most likely we will maintain the existing standards and current inspection regime. So there is no reason for any supply restrictions or delays in customs.

    Even now within the EU, our trade is subject to WTO rules and will remain so on leaving – so there’s no “crashing-out” with our trade. All EU countries have an obligation under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to minimise customs formalities through technology to avoid long delays and red tape.

    ‘Busting the Remain-inspired myths about trade on WTO terms [July 2018]’:

    …the new Trade Facilitation Agreement, […] obliges WTO members to minimise customs formalities through technology, including many of the features discussed in relation to the maximum facilitation strategy for the Northern Ireland frontier. The new UK-EU border must adhere to this high standard of frictionless transit precisely for the purpose of avoiding long delays caused by needless red tape of the kind we have been told to fear.

  • @”marcstevens 11th Aug ’18 – 5:51pm
    Yes just the chlorine bleached chicken the USA are waiting to sell us. No thanks give me EU standards any day and always when it comes to medicines and food product”

    Yeah because EU poultry and meat that has been intensely farmed on mega farms and pumped full of antibiotics are so much better for us aren’t they?
    It’s not like antibiotics are not becoming less effective against super bugs and germs due to overuse is it? Oh wait, yes they are, but as long as the EU says it is still ok because they need them to support intense mega-farming, then we shall just ignore all that and instead carry on about how dangerous chlorine washed chicken is and try to deflect the attention…..

  • marcstevens 11th Aug ’18 – 5:51pm:
    Yes just the chlorine bleached chicken the USA are waiting to sell us.

    That’s speculative. Even if agreed, nobody will force you to eat it. The important requirement is that it should be clearly labelled so consumers can make an informed choice before purchasing.

    Do you eat washed salad?

    ‘Washed salad leaves are not necessarily clean, warns food expert’ [February 2015]:

    Washed and ready-to-eat salads have been sloshed around in a tank of eight-hour-old tap water dosed with chlorine, an expert has warned.

    North American food standards are no better or worse than ours – they’re just different as they’ve had a different history of food scares. For example, in the U.S., eggs are required to be refrigerated. They look askance at our practice of leaving them on shop shelves for weeks at ambient air temperature.

  • Matt,

    i’d broaden your reading list, it might prevent you getting WTO so wrong. For starters

    ” The UK is already a WTO member but will need to extricate itself from the European Union (EU) ‘schedules’.

    The UK is a member of the WTO in its own right, having cofounded the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the WTO’s predecessor, with other 22 countries in 1948. It does not have to reapply to join the WTO once it leaves the EU.

    But at present the UK operates in the WTO under the EU’s set of ‘schedules’ – a list of commitments that sets the terms of the EU’s tariffs, its quotas and its limits on subsidies. The UK will need to agree its own set of schedules at the WTO.”

    You need to AGREE you can’t just make up your own rules. A bit like agreements within the EU, what a shock WTO is an international organisation, who would have thunk it.

    As to Jeff the standards are the same well they ain’t. The EU use the

    Precautionary principle

    The US food standards are not as strict as the EU’s. Certain food additives are banned in the EU because of their effect on consumers are accepted in the US. Moreover, there are pesticides and herbicides that are not allowed in Europe but are vastly used in the US. What marks the difference between these two markets is the EU’s precautionary principle.

    This principle requires that in the absence of scientific clarity, substances that pose any risk level are better off prohibited. On the other hand, the US requires demonstrable proof of risk before any product is prohibited from the market. This implies that food quality in Europe vs. America is not necessarily different. But the authorities’ approach is what sets the two markets apart. While consumer demands and regulations in other countries are the major driving forces in the US market, the EU’s authorities are more involved in the assessment and regulation processes in their region.

    If you read the link you will see Africa has even lower standards. Dammed facts boys they get you every time no matter what some tinfoil blog states.

  • @Frankie

    Why are you directing comments to me about WTO? I think you were engaging someone else on the forum on this convo.

    “If you read the link you will see Africa has even lower standards. Dammed facts boys they get you every time no matter what some tinfoil blog states.”
    So if it is that bad, then why does the EU allow any amount of imports from them? If it is so harmful to us, then why not ban it all together instead of just allowing quota’s.

    It couldn’t possibly really be a protectionist racket within the EU could it.

    Call yourself internationalists, Ha, what a joke

  • Matt,

    They have to meet EU rules to import food to the EU, rather doubt the USA would do that. Still cheer up we will have to do the same or not export food to the EU.

    The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety
    establishes import rules for meat and meat products. By following these rules non-EU
    countries can guarantee that their exports of meat and meat products to the EU fulfil
    the same high standards as products from EU Member States – not only with respect
    to hygiene and all aspects of consumer safety but also regarding their animal
    health status.
    Non-EU countries which are interested in exporting meat and meat products to the EU must be aware of the fundamental principles and philosophy of European Food Law, which forms the basis for our import conditions.

    Bless it’s just so hard to get away. Still we don’t have to export to the EU do we. I mean who would- be screwed if we didn’t? O it would be the breeders and manufactures of

    UK’s top 10 food and drink exports

    Soft drinks

    Still I’m sure they will all be happy to take one for you and your fellow Brexiteers.

  • frankie – Our Whisky, Salmon, Beer, Chocolate etc already meet EU standards so where is the problem? It’s also the same for the EU – if they meet our standards they can sell their food and drink products to the UK. You seem to be trying to find problems where there are none.

  • Matt,
    They meet EU standards you say, yes they do, but what you fail to understand is they have to continue to meet the standards. What does this mean, well it means that if the EU change the rules you have to follow them. You have not taken back control you now have to follow rules that the EU will make and you have no input into them. You can’t let US beef into the UK because it might be reexported and if you do it’s likely the EU will ban our beef exports. I’m afraid your suffering from the delusion “not much will change”, but by giving up control to the EU you are totally changing the rules of the game.

  • frankie 11th Aug ’18 – 9:22pm:
    You need to AGREE [a set of schedules at the WTO] you can’t just make up your own rules.

    Eventually, but we don’t need to agree everything to start with. We can ‘make up’ our own schedule and respond to any objections later (that’s normal). The WTO has a special circumstances provision which enables us to defer any legal action for some years. As a single country with a belief in the benefits of free trade we should be able to reach full agreement on our WTO commitments rather faster than the EU…

    ’12 years on, EU’s certified WTO goods commitments now up to date to 2004’ [February 2017]:

    Just before Christmas [2016] and almost unnoticed, the WTO circulated the EU’s “schedules” of commitments on goods (not services) to reflect its 2004 expansion from 15 to 25 members. They are also the UK’s current official WTO commitments. What are they?

  • frankie 12th Aug ’18 – 12:07am:

    They have to meet EU rules to import food to the EU, rather doubt the USA would do that.


    ‘European Union: Exports’:

    U.S. domestic exports of agricultural products to the EU totaled $11.5 billion in 2016 (total exports of $11.8 billion). The EU countries together would rank 4th as an Ag Export Market for the United States. Leading categories include: tree nuts ($2.6 billion), soybeans ($1.9 billion), wine and beer ($756 million), and prepared food ($579 million),

  • Returning to the substantive argument, as a Diabetic I always ensure that I have at least 2 months stock in my refrigerator. That’s more than enough as I’m sure a solution could be worked out in that time.
    The short term effects of a hard Brexit are being exaggerated the long term effects under estimated.

  • The real problems are related to the behaviour of our government. There are thousands of decisions to be made. There are thousands of agreements to be reached. The government has wasted time in arguing with itself. The government has behaved in a way which has put the welfare of the people at risk.
    There will be a lot of money to be made, especially by those able to move money off shore. And of course to make money you need access to money in the first place.

  • @frankie

    “What does this mean, well it means that if the EU change the rules you have to follow them.”
    And Vice Versa, what if the UK decides to ban the use of antibiotics in poultry due to the risk to human life…….

    You try to portray this as a one way street and the EU holds all the cards.
    You will be sorely disappointed when you realise there is a full deck in play and all players hold the same amount of cards and this all comes down to who plays there’s in the right order.

  • Teresa Wilson 12th Aug '18 - 3:41pm


    I seriously wouldn’t take Brexit Central as a reliable source on anything.

    “Under WTO terms there is no requirement to maintain a customs border at all.” The former head of the WTO doesn’t agree.

  • Jeff

    “They have trade barriers that are unacceptable,” Trump says. “Our farmers can’t send their product into the European Union as easily as they should. And we accept their products. So we have to make a change, and they understand that.”

    The EU established a quota system in 2009 and it has set a limit of 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef to be imported from the U.S. without paying duties. Since then U.S. beef trade fell from 98.8% of the EU market to 32.6% in 2016, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

    With higher tariffs the U.S. lost its foothold in Europe to countries like Australia and Uruguay.

    The European Commission released a consultation on increasing U.S. beef access. The report notes that a dispute with the U.S. on a ban against hormone-treated beef in 2008 led to the quota system to be put in place.

    The hope of a new trade deal on beef from officials in Washington is to double U.S. beef access into the European market.

    Key points there there are quotas (we don’t have quotas, we may in the future) they have to meet the EU rules (as will we but as is the case with the US you don’t get to discuss them or change them). It is also worth noting that when Trump tried starting a trade war with the EU the among the first things the EU upped the tariffs on was US food and drink. Just a few of the tariffs where

    Sweetcorn, uncooked or cooked by steaming or by boiling in water, frozen 25%
    Bourbon whiskey, in containers holding <= 2 l 25%

    full list is

    So as you so eloquently put it I'm afraid both you and Brexit Central are talking "Nuts".

  • Matt,

    If the UK banned antibiotics in chickens well then you’d struggle to find a supply of chickens, no country as far as I can see has banned them. You couldn’t use US chickens as they use more than the EU. Now if you are asking for only none antibiotic produced poultry the UK would need to do that by itself.

    US view

    US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the Department for Agriculture Ted McKinney, said at the Oxford Farming Conference last month that he was “sick and tired” of hearing Britain’s concerns about chlorine washed chicken and US food standards.

    But Suzi Shingler of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said: “If Mr McKinney wants something to worry about other than chlorine washed chicken, he might want to turn his attention to the extraordinarily high levels of antibiotics used in US meat production.

    You really can’t have it both ways if you want higher standards you can only do that by becoming self sufficient in food not by going to the cheapest source. Again we see the different mutually incomparable strands of Brexit clashing. Some voted for Brexit to allow us to have higher standards, some voted for cheaper food, the problem is you can have one or the other not both (and to be honest probably higher prices and lower standards is the most likely outcome) . I suspect if Matt voted for higher standards he will be sadly disappointed. I’m afraid his “Personal Brexit” just isn’t on the cards.

  • Christine Headley 12th Aug '18 - 6:24pm

    I feel sure that diabetics will be able to get hold of insulin, as Theresa May is herself Type 1. I’m not so sure about medication for anyone else.

  • Peter Martin 13th Aug '18 - 8:12am

    I’m sometimes tempted to play this same game from a different angle. Like for example

    “Financial crisis caused 500,000 extra cancer deaths, according to Lancet study”

    It’s an incorrect understanding of our economic system, my the mainstream, that led to the crisis in the first place and a failure, again by the mainstream, and especially in the eurozone, which has meant that we a ultra slow to recover.

    I do tend to think this line of argument is a bit OTT though.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Aug '18 - 9:40am

    I suspect the Brexiteers are already geering up for an outcome referendum and one of the arguments they will use is accusing us of “Project Fear”. It seems very unlikely that essential drugs will cease to cross our border with the eu. That would be a callous act of negligence. Let’s focus on the positives of retaining our relationship with it such as free movement, a high quality of life and benefiting from its collaboration across a wide range of endeavours.

  • Teresa Wilson 12th Aug ’18 – 3:41pm:
    I seriously wouldn’t take Brexit Central as a reliable source on anything.

    That’s rather like saying you wouldn’t take a library as a reliable source on anything. One wonders how many articles you have read there to form such an opinion? Brexit Central is an aggregator of links to news and views on Brexit from across the political spectrum and a publisher of articles by a variety of authors: politicians, journalists, industrialists, lawyers, academics, etc.. As with any such resource, each article needs to be considered on its own merits by evaluating the credentials of its author and the veracity of its content. Articles written by lawyers and academics are usually informative and factually accurate. The article I cited was by David Collins, a Professor of International Economic Law at the University Of London. You may not agree with his arguments, but the facts in the article remain the same. In any case, the statement that you’ve taken issue with didn’t come from that article or any other article on Brexit Central .

  • Teresa Wilson 12th Aug ’18 – 3:41pm:
    “Under WTO terms there is no requirement to maintain a customs border at all.” The former head of the WTO doesn’t agree.

    Let’s look at what Pascal Lamy said…

    “Whatever option you take, either a bilateral agreement or the WTO option, UK exiting the EU, meaning Northern Ireland exiting the EU, this will necessitate a border,”

    There’s already a currency, VAT, and exercise duty border in Ireland. Smuggling occurs, most notably of heating oil which is 20% cheaper in the North than the Republic due to tax differences. Despite a potentially large tax revenue loss, the Irish government does not consider a customs border to be necessary, preferring instead intelligence led police operations and spot checks.

    “There will have to be a border because you need to checks the goods and the people.

    The UK and Irish governments remain committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area so no checks on people will be required. The Irish border issue has only ever been about goods.

    You have to check that if there are duties, that duties are paid.

    And if there are no duties? Then no customs border is needed and the WTO does not require one. That was my point: that in extremis, we could suspend tariffs and drop our customs borders.

    Here’s an authoritative explanation from Peter Ungphakorn, a recently retired WTO official…

    ‘Does the WTO require countries to control their borders? [July 2018]’:

    Among the arguments that politicians are making about the Irish border are the claim either that WTO rules require countries to control their borders, or that the UK can drop border controls and wait to see what Ireland does. One is partly false, the other totally.


    What WTO rules say

    First, a fact:

    There is no rule in the WTO requiring its member governments to secure their borders.

    After Brexit, the UK could drop all border controls for traded goods and services and it would be perfectly within its WTO rights.

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