In the Commons Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner questioned the Secretary of State for International Trade on getting the best possible deal for life sciences sector. Mr Zeichner asked the minister Liam Fox if he agreed with industry leaders that Britain needs to be a part of a European wide regulatory system?
Mr Fox stocked the Chamber with his one word response: “No”.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “I’m stunned. The Life Sciences sector is one of the most highly regulated and harmonised sectors in the world. The system works for the UK and Cambridge with EU life sciences regulation fostering cross-border collaboration in research and allowing UK science access to the EU market. The result is jobs, and quicker access to new medicines for patients.
Mr Fox’s plan not to align our industry with the rest of Europe will add unnecessary red tape to the life sciences sector. I know he was unwilling to listen to evidence during the referendum campaign but now it is high time for him to wake up and smell the coffee. He needs to listen to what industry experts are saying and do right by Britain.”
Following the High Court's ruling that Parliament must have a vote on whether the UK can trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the European Union Daniel Zeichner MP said:
"Three cheers for the High Court. Throughout the referendum campaign 'leave' campaigners talked about taking back control. But then the Tory Brexiteers tried to deny Parliament, which is sovereign, the right to a vote. I hope the Government now listen and abandon costly plans to appeal. I look forward to the vote - when I will be voting in line with the wishes of the vast majority of Cambridge residents - to remain."
Article first published in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2016/oct/14/why-losing-the-european-medicines-agency-is-bad-news-for-patients-jobs-and-the-nhs
I’m old enough to remember John Major’s government like it was yesterday. I watched the Maastricht debates, and I’m prepared to admit I even read the treaty. I remember the troubles that John Major had navigating debates over Europe, and that one of his achievements, despite all those difficulties, was securing the location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the UK.
Twenty years on, that success is being put at risk by another Conservative prime minister. Major complained about “the bastards” on his own side – now they’re running the show. Earlier this week, I led a debate in Westminster on the future of the EMA because we need to know about the government’s plans for medicines regulation following Brexit.
While the EMA wasn’t spoken about much during the EU referendum campaign, the NHS certainly was, and the UK’s relationship with the EMA is absolutely crucial to the NHS. Strangely enough, no minister from the Department for Exiting the EU was available for the debate – a health minister was left to field the questions.
For two decades, the EMA has overseen medicines regulation across Europe. Responsible for the scientific evaluation of human and veterinary medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies, it grants marketing authorisations across the 28 EU member states, as well as the countries of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
The EMA is tasked with ensuring that all medicines available on the EU market are safe, effective and of high quality. It also works to harmonise the approach of national regulatory bodies – like the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Located in London’s Canary Wharf, with around 900 highly-skilled staff, the EMA serves a market of over 500 million people across the EU, accounting for 25 per cent of all global pharmaceutical sales. On its own, the UK accounts for just 3 per cent.
Last week, the chancellor Philip Hammond said that no one voted for Brexit to make us poorer. Yet the impact of Brexit on the EMA could do just that. As Theresa May herself said in July, “It is hard to think of an industry of greater strategic importance to Britain than its pharmaceutical industry.” In 2015, the UK pharmaceutical industry was worth £12.7 billion. A quarter of the world’s top prescription medicines were discovered and developed in the UK.
And the pharmaceutical industry is the backbone of the broader life sciences sector, which has a turnover of more than £60bn a year. In 2014, it invested £4bn in research and development, more than any other sector, and it employs 220,000 people. In my constituency of Cambridge alone, there are over 160 life sciences companies, reinforcing the local knowledge economy and contributing outside of the region as well. Indeed, Cambridge is one of just a handful of UK cities making a net contribution to HM Treasury, thanks in no small part to its vibrant life sciences. Under Brexit, this is now at risk.
A hard Brexit would see the UK out of the single market and the European Economic Area. So for pharmaceuticals and life sciences, what would change? First, industry experts suggest we could see delays to the approval of new medicines. In Canada and Australia, where drugs are regulated nationally, new medicines come to market between six months and a year later than in the EU.
So if pharmaceutical companies have to apply separately to the UK’s MHRA to supply a drug in the UK, we could see patients denied faster access to new medicines. The MHRA may struggle to cope with the additional burden, leading to a slower, less efficient system. Pharmaceutical companies may forego the smaller UK market in favour of the much larger EU market. And smaller companies, often developing pioneering treatments, may not have the capacity to file multiple applications at once.
Second, there is likely to be a physical change. The EMA’s headquarters is expected to move elsewhere. Several EU member states have reportedly thrown their hats in the ring to host it – including Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and Spain. This may create a knock-on effect on future investment and relocation decisions by global and European pharmaceutical companies, further chipping away at the UK economy.
Finally, losing the EMA could lead to a significant brain drain. Not only would we potentially lose the 900 people currently employed by the agency, but we could lose experienced people working elsewhere in the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, any company that sells into the European Economic Area must have a “qualified person for pharmacovigilance” (QPPV), as well as a deputy. There are currently 1,299 QPPVs in the UK who would either have to leave the UK or lose their role.
Negotiations are of course ongoing, but it is crucial the government gets this right. We need to secure the closest possible relationship between the EMA and the MHRA, and their continued regulatory cooperation, because ensuring swift access to the newest treatments is essential to public health. We need the UK’s pharmaceutical industry to remain strong to deliver jobs and economic benefits across the country, and to stimulate companies researching revolutionary treatments. Get this wrong and treatments will slow down, drug prices will go up – and our NHS will foot the bill.
Cambridge residents will come together to discuss the implications of the Brexit vote on the environment.
A special public meeting has been organised by Daniel Zeichner MP. The free event will be held from 7pm – 8.15pm on Friday 16 September at Cambridge Rugby Club, Granchester Road, Cambridge, CB3 9ED
Due to the need to plan capacity, the event will be ticketed but it is open to anyone who would like to attend. Places can be reserved at:www.danielzeichner.co.uk/brexitenvironment.
Speakers are set to include Fiona Harvey, an award winning Guardian Environmental Journalist, Martin Garratt from Cambridge CleanTech and Kerry McCarthy MP, Former Shadow Environment Secretary.
Many of the laws and regulations that protect nature come from the EU. Some have been incorporated into UK law, but after Brexit they could be repealed. Other regulations only exist as EU directives and could end abruptly.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “I don’t think when people cast their votes many were thinking about bees, the birds in their gardens, air pollution and our rivers. Yet the outcome of the referendum will have profound impacts on our environment.
Many people are talking about “red lines” after Brexit, I think it is time to demand some “green lines” from the Government.”
Daniel Zeichner MP recently made a b-line for the Botantic Gardens.
Mr Zeichner who is vice president of the Cambridgeshire bee keepers association and a species champion for the Ruderal bumblebee will join Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, at the bee border, as they spot bees and discuss the future of our pollinating friends after the EU referendum.
Responding to news that Cambridge technology giant ARM is set to be acquired by Japan's Softbank, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner says that we need strong guarantees that the assurances given will be honoured: "Within weeks of the European referendum we are seeing the sale of the jewel in the UK tech crown, Cambridge's greatest modern success story.
In the Commons Home Office minister James Brokenshire has said the government cannot reassure EU nationals whether they would be able to remain in Britain in the coming years.
This article was first published at: https://leftfootforward.org/2016/07/we-must-develop-a-progressive-vision-of-post-brexit-britain/
Friday 24 June was a bleak day for many people across the country. Almost everyone can recall when it was that they heard the news.
Some had spent a sleepless night watching the results come in with a mounting sense of disbelief and disillusionment; many awoke, switched on their phones or TV and were astonished at the news that our country had rejected the most successful peace project of our time.
I am unwavering in my view that leaving the European Union is the wrong decision for both the city of Cambridge and for our country as a whole. I was proud that Cambridge people voted overwhelmingly to remain, and I will be respecting and reflecting that decision when a vote comes before Parliament.
I will also vote against any attempt to take Britain out of the single market, and against any deal which would damage Cambridge and its dynamic economy. It is my job as MP for Cambridge to represent the decision the people of Cambridge made, in every part of our city, to remain. That won’t change.
But we cannot just ignore the fact that over half of the country disagreed—even just up the road in other parts of Cambridgeshire—and voted to leave.
I and close colleagues spent months travelling around the region addressing hustings and meeting local people, and we were left in no doubt that many were going to vote Leave.
We need to formulate a progressive response which explains why there was such hostility to a system that, in the view of people in Cambridge, has helped to create an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity. At least, for some.
And there is the rub – while some have prospered, others have been left behind. The last few years have been good for places where people move freely from country to country to do good jobs – but very tough for those who have seen their skills undercut by people very happy to do the job for much more than they would have got at home, but much less than local people rightly expected.
Of course, it is also true that many were misled.
The Tory and UKIP Brexiteers constructed their campaign from lies, and within hours of the result that slapdash construction fell to pieces. In the aftermath of the referendum, Iain Duncan Smith relabeled the Leave campaign’s promises ‘a series of possibilities’.
Daniel Hannan said people expecting immigration to come down will be ‘disappointed’.
And, most infamously, the pledge of £350 million a week for the NHS emblazoned on the side of the Brexit battle bus has been thrown from Vote Leave to leave.eu and dropped like a hot potato.
Remainers were labelled Project Fear, but the aftershocks of the referendum are already severe. The pound plummeted to a 31 year low.
Anecdotally, I hear of companies already losing important investment. And sickeningly, racial abuse has rocketed across all regions of the country.
To many it seems unfathomable we have reached this point, unfathomable that our open, tolerant society has ruptured in this way. But it is no coincidence that we have seen the pattern in the UK replicated in Europe and the United States.
Countries are becoming increasingly polarised, and centrist politics are being rejected. The Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, among others, are taking heart from the Brexit vote.
The idea of Donald Trump as president – previously a favourite punchline in cities like Cambridge – is no longer impossible. There is a troubling growth in movements that are anti human rights, liberal democracy and internationalism. Brexit is just another symptom of a more profound problem in the West, and a genuine crisis of confidence.
So it is vital that progressive people in Britain and across Europe develop ideas for the post-Brexit landscape.
It is a particular opportunity for those with progressive politics because the Conservatives have spent their time in Government making the divisions in our country worse, not better – and it is those divisions that are at the root of the problem.
By every assessment, money has been taken from poorer areas of Britain and redistributed to richer areas – not a surprise, because that is what Conservative governments do. At the same time communities have faced rapid change, economically, technically and culturally.
In Cambridge we are surfing that wave but for others it is seen as a crashing blow.
The divide between rich and poor has become so dangerously large that the social divisions pose a real threat to the entire country, not just the poorer areas. Which is why an optimistic, forward-looking prospectus could once again appeal to parts of the country monopolised by the Tories for a couple of decades.
In swathes of the country, there are people who don’t want to see a country disunited, don’t want to see us cut off from our European friends, and appreciate that the wealth a successful globalised economy creates now has to be shared more fairly.
Leave campaigners had no answer for when Britain voted to leave, now we the 48 per cent must urgently formulate answers.
We face unprecedented challenges and huge numbers of questions. Is access to the single market a red line? Or retaining the European Arrest warrant? What about immigration? Food security? How will we fund science in the future?
That is why I have launched a consultation today looking at a number of key areas – the economy, the environment, security, immigration, science and research and our relationship with other progressive groups across Europe.
We need to work out the objectives, values and principles that we want to drive Britain’s post-Brexit vote policies.
We cannot allow the Conservative government to monopolise the post-Brexit vote discussion. We who believed in a social Europe still do, and equally we believe in a ‘social Britain’.
I am optimistic that something positive can come from the wreckage of this result, and that at its heart Britain can still be the inclusive and outward-looking place I have known it to be.
Our task is to seek to understand the causes of challenges being faced by communities across our country, and how we can best find and communicate the solutions to those problems.
I hope these first steps will begin the process of stitching the social fabric of our divided country back together.
Yesterday the people of Cambridge overwhelmingly voted to remain members of the European Union. I am so proud of our city. Thank you for everything you did to help the campaign. Of course, I am deeply saddened that the result in Cambridge was not replicated across the country.
I know across Cambridge many people are aghast at what has happened, as indeed are progressive people across the rest of the country and Europe.
Together we must seek to rebuild bridges.
Today I feel disappointed and know many are apprehensive. I don’t think this is the right direction for our country. The Conservatives are already making life harder for people through their ideological cuts and assault on our public services. Now, outside the EU, with an even more right wing prime minister, life will get tougher still.
Once again, thank you for your support, I am sorry it is not the result we wanted.