Latest updates as top doctor warns no-deal Brexit could kill people

Boris Johnson news live: Latest updates as top doctor warns no-deal Brexit could kill people


Thursday 10 October 2019 09:38

Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar will have what is described as a “private meeting” with his Irish counterpart to “allow detailed discussions” on the process for securing an agreement.

It comes as Andrea Leadsom suggested the PM could send a second letter to the EU explaining he does not want any Brexit delay, alongside the letter asking for an Article 50 extension required by the Benn Act.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, meanwhile, has said people could die as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

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Gordon Brown is speaking in St Andrews this morning, warning that a no-deal Brexit will make the UK a “paradise” for speculators, spivs and smugglers to make money.


“Speculators are poised to swoop on stockpiles of medicines and food supplies and to profit from a hit to the pound, and even from the sale of carbon credits that were originally designed to protect our environment,” Brown is expected to say.


“It is inevitable that we will see a return of the spiv, as speculation around food and medicine shortages and the falling pound are guaranteed to reward them handsomely.


“While – to avoid profiteering – the NHS has already banned the export of 30 drugs to Europe for the foreseeable future, I fear many more medical supplies could be taken from stockpiles and sold abroad in a wave of cashing in.


“And even food is set to become a plaything, with a combination of shortages, stockpiling and a fall in the pound making ruthless profiteering possible at the expense of food price rises for hard-pressed families.”


Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to agree to a general election once no-deal is taken off the table, parliamentary supporters of a second referendum could hijack an emergency sitting of the Commons on 19 October to force a public vote on any Brexit outcome.


The idea is being discussed behind the scenes by MPs who are increasingly confident they have a majority to enshrine a Final Say referendum.


All the details here.



The government is said to be considering sending a second letter to the EU along with the first letter required by the Benn Act requesting an extension to Article. 


Asked on ITV’s Peston if Johnson could still send a second letter explaining he doesn’t actually want an extension, business secretary Andrea Leadsom replied: “Absolutely”.


According to the BBC, there are still discussion going on in Downing Street about sending a second letter.


Despite Leadsom’s comments, some cabinet ministers appear to accepted what the Benn Act requires – a delay and no crash-out Brexit on 31 October. One told Laura Kuenssberg: “the EU will do what it always does, play long, and we’ll have to agree”.


SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC has said the Benn Act expressly forbids such “silly tricks” as second letters.


Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said this morning that the government will “comply with the law”.



Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has been talking about Andrea Leadsom’s comments about sending two separate letters to Brussels – one disavowing the request for a Brexit extension required by the Benn Act.


Asked about whether the UK could send a second letter, Kwarteng told the Today programme: “That’s speculation. What the government has said repeatedly is that we will comply with the law. Absolutely.


Pressed on whether it would comply with the law, he said: “I’m not a lawyer so I am not going to comment on that.


“That’s knowledge I am not privy to. I think that what we are going to do is deliver Brexit.


“The main point is a deal which was written off as something impossible is actually something that is possible and we are working very hard.”



Former chancellor Philip Hammond has ruled out voting for a general election in the coming weeks and expressed his fears over the Tory party’s “reckless” spending and no-deal pledges.



Hammond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think an election solves our problem here. I would not support an election at the moment.


“Ironically, a few weeks ago we were being asked to give assurances that we wouldn’t vote against the government in a vote of no confidence and now we’re being asked to vote to turn the government out.”


The Tory rebel said a confirmatory referendum “is not my preferred option”, but did not rule one out.


On the fiscal headroom, he said: “The economy is slowing down and the government has made a number of very significant spending commitments and I do worry that the Conservative Party’s core message for many, many years whether people like us or loathe us has been that we are a responsible party with the economy and the public finances.


“And I do worry about a strategy which is reckless about our economic future in terms of advocating no-deal Brexit and reckless about our public finances in terms of spending money that, frankly, at this point in the Brexit negotiation, we cannot be sure we have available.”


Moderate Tories have threatened Boris Johnson with a mass walk-out if No 10 tries to make the party back a no-deal Brexit explicitly at a snap general election.


The suggestion, made by a No 10 aide – widely believed to be Dominic Cummings. One MP told The Independent the idea was “mad”.


After meeting Johnson in Downing Street, Damian Green, the chairman of the One Nation group, said the PM had been told that such a stance would be unacceptable. Green said “several dozen” MPs could quit over the issue.


All the details here.



England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has said people could die as a result of a no-deal Brexit.


“The health service and everyone has worked very hard to prepare,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.


“But I say what I’ve said before, that we cannot guarantee that there will not be shortages not only in medicines but technology and gadgets and things.


“And there may be deaths, we can’t guarantee there won’t.”


Pressed if lives are at risk, she firmly replied: “They are at risk.”


Jeremy Corbyn is in Northampton and is set to accuse Boris Johnson of “using the Queen” for a pre-election Conservative Party broadcast just weeks ahead of a potential general election.


In a keynote speech, the Labour leader will also insist he is “champing at the bit” for an early election, vowing to support a Commons vote on one once a no-deal Brexit has been avoided.


More details here.



Boris Johnson is to meet Leo Varadkar for last-ditch Brexit talks in Cheshire today in a bid to break the deadlock as the departure deadline looms and progress with the EU falters.


The prime minister will have what is described as a “private meeting” with his Irish counterpart to “allow detailed discussions” on the process for securing an agreement.




Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of events at Westminster, Brussels and beyond.

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