Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.30 5 Sep 2019


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Medicine shortages following a no-deal Brexit would impact Ireland as well, the UK's Brexit Secretary has warned.

Stephen Barclay has been taking questions from MPs about how his government is preparing for a potential disorderly exit from the EU.

On the subject of possible medicine shortages, he suggested: "There is always issues of supplies... we've had it in the last few weeks... totally unconnected to Brexit.

"I'd further say this is something it's in both sides' interests to get right. Two-thirds of Ireland's medicine comes through the land-bridge in Great Britain - so this is something both sides are working [on]."

He added: "This is about preparing - it's not about scaring people unnecessarily... It's something of mutual interest that we want to get right with them. That's why we're working with [EU] member states on this.

"It's also about flow the other way - significant number of UK medicines go to Europe as well."

The Department of Health here in Ireland has previously warned a no-deal Brexit could have a severe impact on the health service.

Secretary-general Jim Breslin said work is ongoing to ensure the supply of medicines and medical devices is protected.

However, he said it's important that service users are aware of any possible changes to services or procedures.

Mr Breslin's warning came in a letter to HIQA, written in July and released to Newstalk under the Freedom of Information Act.

Brexit uncertainty

Mr Barclay's remarks today come amid the ongoing uncertainty in Westminster over Brexit.

In a defeat for Boris Johnson, opposition MPs and rebel Tories have passed a bill seeking to delay Brexit if no deal is reached in the coming weeks.

That bill now looks set to pass through the House of Lords by tomorrow evening following a late night agreement.

However, the situation remains uncertain - with a general election likely to take place in the near future despite the British government's initial bid to to trigger one failing yesterday evening.

Labour has insisted they'll support an election, but only after the legislation blocking no-deal becomes law.

It's unclear whether an election would take place during Boris Johnson's preference for mid-October or at a later date (potentially after the current 31st October Brexit deadline).

Main image: Britain's Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay arrives at Downing Street in London. Picture by: Alberto Pezzali/AP/Press Association Images

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