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Brown demands answers from Prime Minister over Brexit fears for imports of food and medicines

Fears: Gordon Brown
Fears: Gordon Brown

By Katrine Bussey

Parliament should be debating the "devastating" consequences of a no-deal Brexit that could put lives at risk, instead of being suspended, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.

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Mr Brown warned that leaving the European Union without a deal in place could hit imports of food and medicine. And he insisted Boris Johnson must answer questions on such matters.

The former Labour leader said: "Boris Johnson and his ministers say that Britain is taking back control. But in reality, Britain is losing control - of our food supplies, of our medical supplies and of our manufacturing supplies."

Speaking ahead of a No to No Deal rally in Glasgow yesterday, Mr Brown demanded: "Can the Prime Minister guarantee that medical supplies - the one million medical packs that come every day into the country through ports such as Dover - arrive uninterrupted and without putting lives at risk?

"Can he pledge that our food supplies - 30% of which come from mainland Europe and another 10% through countries where Europe has trade agreements - will arrive uninterrupted without putting nutritional standards at risk and pushing food prices up 10%"

If the PM cannot give guarantees on these issues - and Mr Brown made clear he does not believe Mr Johnson can - he claimed Brexit would be "the biggest own goal in our peacetime economic history ... no matter how much it is dressed up as a patriotic act".

Mr Brown said over one million consignments of medical supplies arrive in the UK from Europe every day - more than 400m a year.

This could have an impact on supplies of the EpiPens used to treat allergic reactions, flu vaccines, radio isotopes used in cancer treatment, and the insulin needed to keep diabetes sufferers alive, the former PM said.

He said 28% of the UK's food comes directly from the EU - with a further 11% coming from countries that have trade agreements with the EU.

Mr Brown argued that extra border checks and the need for documentation could increase the time it takes for food to make it to the UK - and could also result in additional costs for shoppers.

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