How powerful is Gordon Brown?

Forbes ranks Brown at number 29 in its power list

Gordon Brown has made it to number 29 in Forbes's annual global power list. I won't quarrel with that -- Brown also appeared at 29 in our recent list of the 50 people who matter today.

It's certainly an improvement over GQ's risible "100 most influential men in Britain", which put David Cameron at number one (the GQ editor, Dylan Jones, is the author of Cameron on Cameron, a book of conversations with the Tory leader), George Osborne at number four and Brown at number nine.

Forbes's accompanying blurb for Brown bizarrely fails to mention his considerable influence on the global bank bailout, something that led Paul Krugman to declare that Brown had acted with "stunning speed" and that he had "defined the character of the worldwide rescue operation".

But the magazine does claim that voters will have their say on Brown "in June". Unless someone has improbably leaked the date of the general election to Forbes (3 June would be the last possible date), this appears to be another example of the casual foreign assumption that the UK has fixed-term parliaments. In fact, the ability of British prime ministers to go to the country at a time of their choosing is something that gives them more power than many of their foreign counterparts.

What of the rest of the list? Nicolas Sarkozy, a man with a pronounced Napoleon complex, will be astonished to see himself at a humbling 56th. But the BBC director general, Mark Thompson (the only Brit on the list other than Brown), should be pleased to sneak in at 65 after a fraught year for the corporation.

Finally, Rupert Murdoch's animus against the "parasites" of Google is unlikely to ease after Sergey Brin and Larry Page were given fifth place, leaving the media mogul trailing in seventh position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Brexit could destroy our NHS – and it would be the government's own fault

Without EU citizens, the health service will be short of 20,000 nurses in a decade.

Aneurin Bevan once said: "Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community."

And so, in 1948, the National Health Service was established. But today, the service itself seems to be on life support and stumbling towards a final and fatal collapse.

It is no secret that for years the NHS has been neglected and underfunded by the government. But Brexit is doing the NHS no favours either.

In addition to the promise of £350m to our NHS every week, Brexit campaigners shamefully portrayed immigrants, in many ways, as as a burden. This is quite simply not the case, as statistics have shown how Britain has benefited quite significantly from mass EU migration. The NHS, again, profited from large swathes of European recruitment.

We are already suffering an overwhelming downturn in staffing applications from EU/EAA countries due to the uncertainty that Brexit is already causing. If the migration of nurses from EEA countries stopped completely, the Department of Health predicts the UK would have a shortage of 20,000 nurses by 2025/26. Some hospitals have significantly larger numbers of EU workers than others, such as Royal Brompton in London, where one in five workers is from the EU/EAA. How will this be accounted for? 

Britain’s solid pharmaceutical industry – which plays an integral part in the NHS and our everyday lives – is also at risk from Brexit.

London is the current home of the highly prized EU regulatory body, the European Medicine Agency, which was won by John Major in 1994 after the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

The EMA is tasked with ensuring that all medicines available on the EU market are safe, effective and of high quality. The UK’s relationship with the EMA is unquestionably vital to the functioning of the NHS.

As well as delivering 900 highly skilled jobs of its own, the EMA is associated with 1,299 QPPV’s (qualified person for pharmacovigilance). Various subcontractors, research organisations and drug companies have settled in London to be close to the regulatory process.

The government may not be able to prevent the removal of the EMA, but it is entirely in its power to retain EU medical staff. 

Yet Theresa May has failed to reassure EU citizens, with her offer to them falling short of continuation of rights. Is it any wonder that 47 per cent of highly skilled workers from the EU are considering leaving the UK in the next five years?

During the election, May failed to declare how she plans to increase the number of future homegrown nurses or how she will protect our current brilliant crop of European nurses – amounting to around 30,000 roles.

A compromise in the form of an EFTA arrangement would lessen the damage Brexit is going to cause to every single facet of our NHS. Yet the government's rhetoric going into the election was "no deal is better than a bad deal". 

Whatever is negotiated with the EU over the coming years, the NHS faces an uncertain and perilous future. The government needs to act now, before the larger inevitable disruptions of Brexit kick in, if it is to restore stability and efficiency to the health service.

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