Five questions answered on further job losses at AstraZeneca

UK pharma firm cuts a further 2,300 jobs globally.

UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced further job losses on top of the ones it announced at the beginning of the week. We answer five questions on the AstraZeneca job losses.

How many job losses has AstraZeneca announced this week?

On Monday the company announced around 2,300 job losses world wide - around 700 from the UK. Today it has announced a further 2,300 jobs will be lost globally.

Why is the company axing these jobs?

AstraZeneca is in the process of restructuring its business and has outlined a new strategy that has resulted in these job losses. One of the big aspects of its UK restructuring is closing down its London office and opening a new headquarters in Cambridge.

Research and development work will no longer be carried out at its Alderley Park, Cheshire facility, with approximately 1,600 roles being relocated to Cambridge.

How much is the company investing in Cambridge?

The company is investing £330m ($500m) to build a new headquarters in Cambridge and creating 2,000 jobs in the area.

What other problems do AstraZeneca face?

The company is struggling with a lack of drug developments in the pipeline and patents of blockbuster drugs that are due to expire.

Today it announced it will concentrate on developing drugs to combat respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity, heart disease and cancer treatments.

What has AstraZeneca said in regards to its new strategy?

In a press statement Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot said: “We are making an unambiguous commitment to concentrate our efforts and resources on our priority growth platforms and our priority pipeline projects.

“As we focus, accelerate and transform our business we know that our success will ultimately be measured by the quality of execution. I’m confident that we have set out on the right path to return to growth and achieve scientific leadership, and I’m equally confident that our people possess the talent, determination and focus to deliver for patients as well as our shareholders.”

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.