ABHI Membership

ABHI Brexit Update: Buckle up

Greetings one and all and I trust you enjoyed your summers. Mine was great thanks for asking, but it is genuinely good to be back in the saddle. Truth to tell, by the time we had left Mallorca, there was not much left to be had in the way of Lubina in the Med, and they need to do some serious replanting in the Duero. Bank Holiday festivities in the Wild West of Cornwall, where we have also been sleeping under the stars, are also only sustainable for so long. Body and mind are rested, although the latter is a bit emptier than it needs to be.

I did promise you that officials would be busy over the summer, and if you were locked away, hiding from the kids and sneaking a look at your e mails from ABHI, you will have seen that the first raft of so called “technical notices,” detailing contingencies in the event of a no deal, have been published. Who would be Dominic Rabb eh? Dammed if he does, dammed if he doesn’t. Reaction to the papers has ranged, depending on your particular point of view, from being highly responsible government, preparing our country for every eventuality, to a tacit admission that we are careering into a worst of all worlds, mutually assured destruction of a no deal and we should stop this Brexit nonsense now.

Personally I was a little surprised by all the palaver the notices, and there are more, a lot more, to come, generated across the media wires. I put it down to the fact that first teamers were on holiday with the rest of us and the fort was being held by the Extra As, all desperate to make an impact. The fact is there was nothing that was published that should have come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The essence of the advice to companies has been on our website for the best part of a year, and other associations, in other sectors will say the same. The known unknowns remain – what will be the position the Commission will take to products certified by UK Notified Bodies and what will be the arrangements at UK / EU borders. Neither of these is within the gift of the UK government to prescribe, nor is there any unilateral action it can take by way of mitigation.

There is some work to be done on maintaining supply in the event of no deal, which is why we are asking you for information on any interactions you have had with individual Trusts. The Secretary of State wrote to you all last month on this and we have an ongoing dialogue with DHSC and NHS England, but concerns remain. The apparent lack of coordination has not been lost on NHS Providers who are lobbying hard on behalf of their members, but, as I have said before, options are limited.

The only reason we are closer to any certainty in all of this is because the clock is, now rather infamously, ticking. October was always seen as a pivotal moment in the process, seemingly the last European Council meeting at which a deal could be agreed to allow time for the necessary before March next year and Brexit. A deal by then seems ever less likely, although when EU leaders meet informally, without the presence of Commission negotiators, later this month, it is just possible we could suddenly lurch forward.

Back here, with the protagonists rested, usual service is being resumed and it will not be for the faint hearted. The Government’s position has been consistent over the last year and since the publication of its Future Partnership and Position papers. That is what is presented in the Chequers agreement. The problem for the PM and her team is that Chequers is not Brexit as envisioned by Brexiteers, and hostilities will resume along those lines. May loyalists continue to tour the constituencies arguing that Chequers is in the best interests of the country, whilst the hard line Leavers are, I understand, beginning to organise themselves. Using his platform in the Telegraph and unburdened by any need to be collectively responsible, Boris Johnson is spearheading what seems to be a coordinated campaign to convince us that the hardest possible Brexit is what is actually in the best interest of the country. And, of course, there is now a third party and a third way, the movement for a second “people’s referendum.” Buckle up.