Morning briefing: Leaked letter reveals NHS no-deal non-plan - Fox exports fantasies - animal welfare
“Stockpiles and shortages of medicines and medical devices” are on the cards if there isn’t better coordination around a no-deal Brexit, an NHS chief has warned. Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, the association of NHS trusts, has laid out his concerns in a letter to other NHS chiefs, leaked to The Times. He wrote there had been “no formal communication to trusts” from the national level and that trusts were working in a “vacuum” and having to “reinvent the wheel 229 times”.
This indictment comes days before the government releases its first tranche of 84 technical documents on its plans should we crash out of the EU. These papers have been reworked, with the “tone” of some Treasury documents too “negative” and the sections on the “current status” of Brexit talks too “upbeat”, according to government sources quoted in the Telegraph.
These documents are increasingly looking like a Brexit PR exercise, with real-world preparations still moving at a snail’s pace. It’s a fine balancing act for ministers: make no-deal look too scary and the public could back away from Brexit entirely.
The other danger is that, since the EU cannot accept May’s original plan, the prime minister will secure a vague fudge. This “blind Brexit” means not knowing what Brexit means even when we exit, leaving the door open for no-deal later down the line. That would be catastrophic for the country.
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Quote of the day
“In the event of a no-deal or hard Brexit... the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals could be adversely affected. Public health and disease control coordination could also suffer and our efforts to reassure, retain and attract the European workforce on which the NHS relies could also be jeopardised.”
Letter from NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson to other NHS leaders, leaked to The Times
Video of the day
In case you missed it... here's Rory Bremner calling for a People's Vote at our Edinburgh rally on Saturday.
Fox exports his fantasies
Liam Fox is making a supposedly “big” announcement today, with a new government target to boost exports to 35% of GDP from 30%. But the trade secretary isn’t setting a timescale for this fantasy target - presumably because Brexit will actually means less trade not more.
We will lose or have to rewrite deals the EU has with nearly 70 countries, including Japan and China. Because we won’t have the clout of the EU’s 500-million-person market behind us when cutting new trade deals, we’ll be vulnerable to being bullied by America and China. And, of course, exports to the EU - nearly half of everything we sell abroad - will be hit because we will no longer have frictionless access to its single market.
Fox is quoted saying: “It’s not tariffs that are the real barriers in the global economy – it’s the non-tariff barriers.” That’s exactly what EU membership removes for our biggest market!
How to solve a problem like Putin
Jeremy Hunt will hit out at Russia’s “malign” influence following the Salisbury attack, during a visit to Washington today. The foreign secretary will urge the EU to replicate Washington’s “comprehensive” response.
It’s a great example of how we need to bring the EU along with us if we’re to achieve our desired foreign policy outcomes and stand up to international bullies - of which there are an increasing number in the world. The best forum for this is at the EU’s top table, driving the bloc’s security and defence strategy. After Brexit our influence would be limited to the kind of broad statements being made by Hunt today.
Tweet of the day
This Twitter thread from The3Million, a group campaigning for EU citizens in the UK, is well worth a read if you want to understand how EU nationals feel betrayed by the government over Brexit.
You can read the whole thread here.
The government’s claim that we can improve animal welfare if we quit the EU looks hypocritical following a new deal with Saudi Arabia. The UK will sell meat to Saudi Arabia from lambs that are not stunned before being slaughtered - the i’s front page leads with the story. Post-Brexit we’ll be so desperate to trade with anybody that it won’t just be animal rights that we’ll sacrifice.
Graphic of the day
The UK's once dominant financial services sector is losing ground quickly as Brexit uncertainty bites, as this Bloomberg chart shows. A weaker City of London means less revenue in government coffers to pay for healthcare, schools, housing...
Leave Means Leave counts women supporters on one finger
The Farage-backed Leave Means Leave pro-Brexit group only names two women (MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Suella Braverman) and one person of colour (Braverman, again) among their list of 46 supporters, according to HuffPost. What’s more, Braverman a government minister insists she is only on the list as an “oversight”. That means there’s only one woman and no people of black or ethnic minority. Hardline Brexiters are almost exclusively angry white men.
Video of the day 2
OFOC's Femi Oluwole discusses Nigel Farage's return to the Brexit fray on Sky News.
More Brexit news…
WATCH: Another former Leave voter turns against Brexit: "When I voted, I didn't know what I voted for."
Top Brexit comment
Nick Clegg: On Brexit, we’re heading towards the worst of both worlds (i)
George Peretz: WTO rules would be much more painful than Brexiteers let on (Telegraph)
Today, Tuesday 21 August
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||Dominic Raab meets Michel Barnier in Brussels|
|-||Jeremy Hunt's first visit to US as foreign secretary|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 22 August
|-||Parliament in recess|