Ten months on from the EU Referendum and with negotiations due to start, we still have few details about what leaving the EU actually means, other than that we are headed for ‘hard’ Brexit.
What does Brexit mean for us?
As SNP Health Spokesperson at Westminster one of my main concerns was to ensure that healthcare remains a top priority. The NHS relies upon the hard work of doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff from EU countries and so ensuring that these individuals retain the right to live, work and feel welcome here is crucial. I have continually called upon the UK Government to end the uncertainty facing EU nationals living in the UK, as well as UK citizens living in EU countries, by reassuring those who have made their homes here that they will not be forced to leave. We must also ensure that post-Brexit the mechanism is in place to recruit healthcare workers from the EU to enable our NHS to keep up with increasing demand.
“The EU is so much more than just the Single Market.”
Of course, Brexit will have a significant impact economically, which will undoubtedly be felt here in Central Ayrshire. Lack of access to the Single Market will make it more difficult and more expensive for companies, especially those in food and drink, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries, to export their products, and more restrictive travel would damage our tourism sector which relies heavily on visitors from EU countries. In March, David Davis, the UK Government’s Secretary for Brexit, disclosed that no economic assessment has been done on the possibility of leaving the EU having failed to reach a trade deal. He also conceded that the farming sector could face tariffs of 40 per cent on exports if Britain is left subject to World Trade Organisation rules, which would be enormous damaging to our agriculture sector here in Ayrshire and across the country.
But, the benefits are not just economic. We gain so much from being EU citizens, not least in terms of health. Our value EHIC card that allows us to receive medical treatment when traveling, which is not only reassuring but helps keep our travel insurance premiums down. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) – a collaboration between member countries providing one single licensing system, allowing drugs to come to market in the UK ahead of other countries. And the largest research network in the world, in which Scotland has punched above its weight with our high quality universities and medical schools. The future of existing projects and our ability to recruit high-calibre staff is already compromised.
For more information on the implications of Brexit on health read my article on Commonspace.
Very little of this ever came to the fore in the Brexit debate yet they are so beneficial to our daily lives. This is why Scotland must seek a different path from that being proposed by the UK Government. The risk to our economy, our health and well-being, and the cost to our public services and our individual rights is too great. The SNP policy on Brexit and the EU can be found here.