Should Cameron quit? Ask him yourself, says Boris

Mayor of London does little to quell speculation that he is after the top job.

Boris Johnson was hardly the picture of loyalty at a press conference this afternoon. He was asked why Sir Paul Stephenson should have to resign because of his links with Neil Wallis, when David Cameron has not over his links to Andy Coulson. Rather than dismissing the suggestion that the Prime Minister's resignation might be necessary, Johnson replied:

This is a matter you must frankly direct to Number 10 Downing Street, and I suggest you ask them.

Cameron, currently on a trade trip to Africa, will be less than thrilled. FT Westminster also reports that a Daily Mail journalist asked him whether he was considering his position. He responded with deliberately vague language:

The British government, in terms of the phone hacking scandal, has taken all of the appropriate actions. we have set up a judicial inquiry, we have made sure there is a properly funded police investigation. We have published huge amounts of information about any meetings between politicians and senior media executives. So i think we have given a very clear answer. Parliament is going to come back on Wednesday, I'm going to make a big statement updating what we are doing with the judicial inquiry. I will be able to answer any of the questions that have come up in the last couple of days. I feel I have been out there in Parliament, in press conferences fully answering the questions, fully transparent, very clear about what needs to be done - making sure that Britain gets to the bottom of what has been a terrible episode in terms of what newpapers have done, hacking into private data. And also some very big questions about potential police corruption. we need to get to the bottom of those.

Cameron may be wishing he had stayed in London to keep a better eye on his friend and colleague.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for 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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