GPs tend to be renowned for their earthy realism, but it was one of their number – albeit a former practitioner – who said last year that coming to a free trade agreement with the EU should be ‘one of the easiest in human history’.
Colleagues of the international trade secretary Liam Fox have displayed rather less optimism in recent months and now speculate on the chances of a ‘no-deal’ exit from Europe.
We’ll leave the pundits and politicians to argue about the odds, but the risks of no deal – and many of the possible deals on the table – are everyone’s business.
As the BMA’s latest briefing on the effects of Brexit makes clear, pressure on the UK to forge new trading arrangements could pose a ‘significant risk’ to the safety and integrity of the NHS.
The report warns that the UK is already under pressure from non-EU states to liberalise its trade policy post-Brexit, and that Parliament does not have the capacity to scrutinise the negotiation of new free-trade agreements properly.
It calls on the Government to seek to protect the health service by excluding the NHS from being part of future trade deals and resisting any attempts designed to weaken existing safety standards on patient care and medical research.
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