Our NHS – American Patients First?

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised his voters that he would bring down the cost of their drugs, a source of constant anxiety for working Americans thanks to their fragmented Health Insurance based system.  During 2018 there were various reports criticising Mr Trump for having failed to meet that pledge.  Associated Press reported that in an analysis they had done, there had been more price hikes than drops i.e. for the pharma industry it was business as usual.

Johnson, Trump and the NHS
Johnson, Trump and the NHS

In May 2018, Alex Azar, Mr. Trump’s health secretary, declared that Washington would address this matter by pushing up drug prices in their overseas markets in order to push down the prices for the domestic market.  Getting better margins overseas for the pharma industry would give Trump leverage with the drug companies so he could do a deal with them.  Mr Azar told CNBC “On the foreign side, we need to, through our trade negotiations and agreements, pressure them.

And so we pay less, they pay more “. He went on: “The reason why they are getting better net prices than we get is their socialised system.”

The Orange One himself has also spoken on this matter and is reported as saying

“America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries.  In some cases, medicine that costs a few dollars in a foreign country costs hundreds of dollars in America for the same pill, with the same ingredients, in the same package, made in the same plant. That is unacceptable.  It’s unfair. It’s ridiculous. It’s not going to happen any longer. It’s time to end the global freeloading once and for all.”

How do you feel about the UK being called freeloaders, folks? 

So you see, when you examine the conversations that have been going on in US politics, it is no surprise when documents such as those revealed by the Labour Party this week, appear to show discussions  between the British Government and the US about the pricing of drugs and the very large NHS market which can be super lucrative with bigger margins and longer patents.  Drugs in the US are roughly 2 and a half to 10 times more expensive than in the UK depending on the product, so you can imagine that removing price controls in the UK would be a tasty carrot dangled by Trump to the US Pharma industry. 

The papers containing minutes of meetings about trade show that the Trump administration want the British government to dismantle the safeguards that protect the NHS from paying high prices for drugs.  They have discussed “full market access” for US drugs and prices to be “market derived” ending the ability of our own body, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to cap prices as it currently does.  The US administration also want longer patents so reducing the ability of Nice to switch the NHS to generic drugs away from the branded versions as quickly.

Even without these documents, just applying logic and business common sense, we will be outside the EU and therefore a Third country which must negotiate many trade agreements if we are ever to rebuild our economy.  The US, Trump or not, though Trump makes it even worse, will attempt to use whatever it can to take advantage of that to the benefit of their own voters.  Remember Trump’s cry is Make American Great Again. 

make brexit stop

Well in the world of Trump, he is not going to do that by standing back and not throwing his weight around to make the most outrageous demands on our drug pricing controls and some of those demands will stick because we will be very keen to do a trade deal quickly and we will have to give something away, which is presumably why these meetings with the Trump administration have been taking place since 2017.

Why are drug prices important?  Well it’s obvious really.  If our drugs cost more, our healthcare cost goes up and we must either find extra funding or we must cut back on the extent and range of treatments available on the NHS.  There is often an accusation that we already have a two-tier system.  Well if Trump gets his way, you ain’t seen nothing yet.   If you voted leave because you believed that it would enable the UK to take back control, I am sorry to tell you that this is yet another area where that won’t happen.  We will be the weaker player in any negotiation.  It’s all very well for Johnson to say now that he won’t negotiate on our drugs market, but in the real world the US will want that on the table, and they will insist on talking about it.  We should have learned by now after 3 years of negotiations with the EU just on the terms of our withdrawal that negotiating is a tough business and a two-way street.  None of the leave cherry picking promises have been achieved with the EU, what makes us think we will fare better in dealing with the might giants of the Washington.

All I can tell you is that If you are sick of Brexit, you had best hope you don’t get sick after Brexit if Johnson and Trump each get their way. Or you can use your vote in this election to send a signal that you don’t want their way.


You can read more from the author of this post, Pilar, at her website or on Twitter (@redalphababe)

Brexit and Business

I have always maintained that it will be a slow decline in our industry base which will cause the real longer term problems. You cannot remove competitiveness from big employers and not expect a reaction then this leads to knock on effects in SMEs too

The way business makes decisions going forward will be affected by our country status and costs and friction in supply lines and the path of least resistance to get to their market

David Bailey

So every decision on leases on plant or property, renewal of financing, change in conditions, new member country regulations over which we have had no say as a third country, may not mean loss of British jobs automatically but makes us very vulnerable in any new considerations.

We can put our heads in the sand and ignore every statement and every warning sign and pretend it won’t happen and listen to the “diesel effect” naysayers, or we can face it, tell people the real consequences of being a third country and let them decide.

The fact is the big reasons countries want to join the EU are amongst other things, frictionless access to the biggest single market in the world and the clear advantage that member countries work together for the good of the member countries signed up to the treaty.

If we aren’t a member country, if we are a third country, our influence and interest will always be limited. We will not be top of the list and EU27 member companies will make future decisions within that context. MPs should all understand this and be explaining it carefully to their constituents.

Not ignoring the warning signs.

Brexit is bad for British business and jobs. You cannot avoid this conclusion and to ignore this will be our undoing.

(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)

Let Us Be Heard March – October 2019

On the 19th October 2019 we travelled from Cheshire on trains, coaches and automobiles for a Peoples Vote March to demand a chance to have a say on this Brexit shambles which threatens our jobs, our families, our rights and freedoms.

We had a little song or two on the way to pass the time on the road – you can read some of them here

We plunged into the march, we managed to get a little closer to the middle of the march than usual as many other groups were still assembling in the park. We walked quite freely until we got to the Hilton when we came to our first stop.

The crowd was friendly, peaceful, good humoured but serious mas determined. This was reflected in the placards I saw around me. Not as many lighthearted ones, many more serious points being made reflected our grave concerns.

The European Project that is now known as the EU has given us peace across Europe for 70 years, turned foes into friends, enabled peace on the island of Ireland. We care about our rights being removed and the threat of Brexit to our NHS.

It was hard to gauge how big the march was so I climbed up on a small wall to get an idea. It was a sea of people in all directions. It turns out that there was well over a million people.

We found out about 20 minutes after it happened about the Letwin Amendment passing. We were way back in the march and struggling to get signal but when we found out we huddled together discussing the meaning.


The Independent video of the March

We managed to get to a screen and saw some fabulous speeches. The MPs all told us that they could hear us in Parliament and they would support a Final Say.

Over a million of us came to London to demand a Peoples Vote. We care about our rights, our freedoms, our identities, our NHS, our EU27 citizens, we are exhausted but we have found renewed energy.

Incredible to watch the sea of people on the Peoples Vote March as we take part in the Brexit Debate.

As Nelson Mandela said, “the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country” Politicians have got to give the public the final say.

As Led By Donkeys say so well – For the sake of the 66 Million let’s remain part of the 500 Million with our EU27 brothers and sisters.

It’s time for MPs to get this right. We can’t go into Boris Johnson’s rotten hard Brexit deal without examining it as a country and having a chance to reject it. His deal is not a compromise, it’s a hard Brexiters ideal with an added path to no-deal the ERG have boasted about.

It’s time for a Peoples Vote. Many have changed their minds.
Take some action –
Join us.
Write to your MP.
Visit your MP. (The link is for the Chester constituency).
It’s time they stopped ignoring us. The only way out of this crisis is a Final Say We have the best deal already. Let us prove it once and for all

A day at the Races

Chester for Europe were campaigning on the streets of Chester on yesterday (Saturday 28 September) – as we have been for the last 18 months. We were at our favourite location – The Cross, a central point which captures shoppers, tourists, visitors – and yesterday we had some racegoers too.

Chester has 15 race days each year, great sporting events and money spinners for our City. Of course, people can only attend because they have disposable income (what’s left after you’ve paid the Mortgage, Council Tax, Fuel Costs etc). In other words, the money that you have to enjoy yourself.

If only a small part of the Brexit No Deal warnings come to pass, disposable income will fall. Increases in the cost of living, a falling value of Sterling, job losses – any or all of these have been predicted by some of our most respected analysts and organisations.

It is of course a cycle – because next year there may be fewer racegoers, that equals less money spent in the pubs, restaurants and shops in our City. Reduced takings on their most profitable days leads those businesses to lay off staff, or not employ them in the first place – thereby further reducing the City’s economic activity in every sector. The only way out is more trade – but trade deals take years to negotiate. Anyone who suggests that Brexit is done if we leave on No Deal terms is a liar. Or, to use more polite language, is not telling the truth.

We’ve been tweeting this week about the #66million – the whole of the population of the UK, who will be affected if we leave without agreeing some basic trading relationships. No-one voted to be poorer, and that prospect was never discussed at the referendum. Neither was the prospect of not going to the races – because you can’t afford it.

66 million affected by Brexit.

The corporate tragedy of Brexit

Whilst these things are rarely simple, a Thomas Cook profits warning in May 2019 clearly cites Brexit and the problems that made in the environment as a big factor. As the announcement of the company closure unfolds, it is a very sad day for the owners, employees here and overseas, the hotels and supply chains.

Here in Cheshire we need to realise that a move or shut down of some of our substantial local automotive industry thanks to bad Brexit trading conditions will leave thousands of our friends and neighbours in similar disarray.

We don’t want to be sitting watching a corporate tragedy unfolding on our doorsteps watched by the country as our jobs are frittered and gambled away on an extraordinary act of national self harm. Real people have to pay the price for this madness.

What is Brexit for? It seems to me the only evidence we have so far is to waste our money on damage limitation and propagandist TV campaigns and job losses and redundancies all so that the Tories could resolve their inner conflict in 2015.

Why do you want to be caught in the crossfire? Why do you want to part of this either with your silence as or even willing participation? Some billionaires told you that you’d be better off not that you would lose your local job!

Join us today and help us fight. Help us stop turning our region into just another tragic job losing set of statistics and a footnote in history.


(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)

THE CURIOUS DEATH OF SUNLIT UPLANDS

The government, under duress of the Humble Address Motion, have published an Operation Yellowhammer document.  We have put it here for you to read in full.  There are a few salient things I feel we must point out.  The title of the document is “Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions”.  The document is identical to that leaked to the press a month ago and the journalists who saw the leaked document say it’s title was “Baseline Scenario”.  In other words, this was the expected set of consequences of falling out of the EU without a deal and that is why they should be planned for. 

Paragraph 15 Has been redacted.  Comparison by a journalist saw the leaked document says the paragraph says

“15. Facing EU tariffs makes petrol exports to the EU uncompetitive. Industry had plans to mitigate the impact on refinery margins and profitability but UK Government policy to set petrol import tariffs at 0% inadvertently undermines these plans. This leads to significant financial losses and announcement of two refinery closures (and transition to import terminals) and direct job losses (about 2000). Resulting strike action at refineries would lead to disruptions to fuel availability for 1-2 weeks in the regions directly supplied by the refineries.”

Would this closed refinery include Stanlow, we ask?  Not only will our area be at risk from the closures and company moves linked to the Just In Time problems as a third country, Stanlow may be at risk too.  That’s a lot of jobs in Cheshire at risk for no benefit.

This document is little more than an executive summary with no detail at all.  No information on what the measures are to mitigate these things.  Why have they not provided any of that detail at all? 

Operation Yellowhammer paragraph 20

For example, examine paragraph 20.  It informs us of the impact on the adult social care sector.  The Upshot is within 4-6 months we will see social care providers closing as Brexit affects an already fragile sector with insufficient staff and no margins to play with.  When these companies shut their doors, who will look after the individual adults affected? Where are they going to go?  Where will we get staff to look after them?  It also presents questions such as,  if there is less social provision, will bed blocking become an even bigger problem than it is now?  We have no idea how the government have answered any of these obvious questions from this document.

We now know Project fear is Project Clear.  If these scenarios were not likely why would our public servants be spending our time and money on this.  We know they are and planning for food shortages, delays at ports, job losses, business closures,  It’s all there in black and white in this short document.  Don’t be fooled by the business=like, sanitised tone. 

The starkest warning is in paragraph 17 and represents a warning we have been giving since we started campaigning.  “Low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel”.

The title change demonstrates an attempt to downplay, remove the scary words in our heads but where are the spreadsheets and tables and figures and mitigation details?  At any rate they have not been able to hide the fact that they have confirmed everything remain campaigns have been saying for 3 years about the dangers of Brexit and no-deal Brexit in particular. 

Let me ask you this final question before you read the full document, if this is the worst case scenario, why have they not printed the Best Case Scenario?  If I wanted to ease peoples minds or show the benefits of no-deal and why I thought it was a valid way for the country to go  I would do that.  Wouldn’t you?  The government has not done that. There is no cost benefit analysis. Its all costs and no benefits.

I am sorry to report the Sunlit Uplands of Brexit were dead and buried a considerable time ago and this document proves it.  


(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)

People’s Assembly Demo

Some of our members turned to the demo organised by People’s Assembly tonight (30 August) in order to support our local MP @ChrisM4Chester. Apparently it was a success overall. However I am told one of the other speakers made some incorrect statements about us, Chester for Europe.

People's Assembly demo in Chester
Demonstration outside Chester Town Hall

To set the record straight –

We are not affiliated to any political party. We have members and key organisers who are members or supporters of Labour, Lib Dems, Green Party and yes even Conservatives. There is a big number of us who are not members of any party and have no intention of being. We are ordinary members of the community who have been driven to political activism in many cases for the first time in our lives by the disgust and anger we feel at the direction the country has gone in.

We are the people too and we will express our will too. It is a mark of the great generosity of spirit and dedication and passion of the fine people in our group that despite having differences at times between those who are party members, we always manage to get over it and work fantastically well.

Which brings me to the next point. The demo we organised very hastily on Wednesday in a matter of hours was nothing to do with any political party, Liberal Democrat’s or otherwise. The reason we were able to do it is we have, like all the other amazing grass roots pro Eu groups, a network of people who we can rely on and mobilise.

We have spent the last year and a half working together putting in place the structures, developing the ideas and the banners and the arguments. We have gained experienced in campaigning and luckily we have some inspirational and talented people in our midst. We believe in genuinely working together and we work hard at that.

It’s not always easy but tribalism takes a back seat when there is work to be done for Remain. So we quickly established the place and time, got our banners, emailed supporters and the social media teams got out there promoting and informing. We had no speakers but people spoke anyway and Labour MP Mike Amesbury having seen our tweets turned up and spoke too.

Chester for Europe demo

This is the strength of our Grass Roots Pro EU network. We genuinely believe in the EU motto In varietate concordia. United in Diversity. This is why we have been able to harness the anger at the Johnson/Cummings game theory practice and get people on the streets and we have had the structures already in place to make that happen.

We always need more people so if you like what you see and want to get involved, register on our website and stay informed on the activities we have lined up.

(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)

Street campaign 3 August 2019

On Saturday we sent our volunteers out to the Cross in Chester and to Ellesmere Port to talk to the constituents of Justin Madders too. We wanted to ask whether Halloween Brexit would be a Trick or Treat.

Our campaign board for Ellesmere Port

Additionally our message in Ellesmere Port included a discussion relating to the No Deal related job losses at Vauxhall expected if Boris Johnson gets his way. In Chester we want to know if people would support a Remain Alliance.

Meanwhile Weaver Vale for EU set up their table in Weaverham. They experienced a good deal of gratitude from remainers really pleased to see them out campaigning for a People’s Vote and Stop Brexit.

Weaver Vale for EU campaign team

There were a handful of leavers about too who were very much in denial of some key facts around Brexit and No Deal. Some said they had no recollection of the leave leaflet which said we would get a deal and leave in an orderly manner.

Leaflet from the Vote Leave campaign

One of these leavers rather sadly claimed he had never heard the term advisory referendum and refused to believe us that this was in fact.. well.. a fact. There were also sadly a couple of remainers who claimed they wanted to support leave to respect the referendum. This narrative needs more challenge from us as deceitful government ministers repeat this story ad nauseum. It’s just jargon which takes the place of actual information for the public to make real sense of. But overall the session was positive and we got some new supporters signed up. Everyday our supporters lists across all the groups gets bigger and bigger. Here are the scores on the doors. Looking good in Weaverham.

Weaverham Street Campaign 3 August 2019
Weaverham Street Campaign 3 August 2019

In Ellesmere Port we had a successful day with lots of new signups. The polarisation of views is clear there though. We found a few determined leavers in denial of the damage of no-deal but one leaver did admit it would be a catastrophe and they wanted to leave with a deal.

Ellesmere Port Street Campaign 3 Aug 2019
Ellesmere Port Street Campaign 3 Aug 2019

Still our volunteers came back enthused and happy with the new supporters they had picked up. As our support grows, parties thinking about their place in history in all this mess need to take note and support a Remain Alliance.

Meanwhile back in a very busy Chester we struggled to talk to everyone who wanted to speak to us. Things were hotting up and strangely the town crier asked us randomly if we had a licence for our fab pasting table modelled here by our beautiful angels.

Emma and Julia campaigning in Chester 3 August 2019
Emma and Julia campaigning in Chester 3 August 2019

A man then rather creepily started taking photos and ranting he was going to report us to the council. I think some people have a strange idea of the democracy they seem so frantic to shout about. Peaceful campaigning is part and parcel of a free country. We are not yet at the point where political dissenters are locked up for daring to criticise or question the government and its poor decision making. We won’t be told to shut up. The table complainer proclaimed Brexit would usher in a new Victorian age. Anybody fancy volunteering their children to go up chimneys? Slum landlords? More industrial accidents as our standards are reduced in order to make a trade deal with the US? Anybody? Only these 👇👇

Big names backing Brexit

Another interesting visitor had been helping the Remain Alliance in Brecon and Radnorshire and showed us the opposition leaflets. They kindly laid out the question “brexit or no brexit”. The people of Brecon and Radnorshire spoke and said “we want Jane Dodds, we want to Stop Brexit”.

Brecon and Radnorshire Campaign posters
Brecon and Radnorshire Campaign posters

Some Italian students enjoying their rights to Free Movement came to see us. They desperately want us to remain in the heart of Europe. They are worried about the far right in Italy and we told them we are worried about the far right here too. We had lots of positivity and many who told us they would rather have Remain than No Deal.

Emma had to speak to a leaver from Greenwich who complained bitterly about immigrants in his town. He said we did not understand little towns like his. Emma reminded the man that Vote Leave promised EEA or similar and not No Deal which they categorically ruled out so it’s the government who have broken these promises, not the rest of us

Our volunteers were pleased when our local MP Chris Matheson came by to see us and encourage us. Although there is some polarisation in views, overall there seem to be many more enthusiastic remainers than dyed in the wool leavers. So here were the scores on the doors in the end in Chester and Ellesmere Port.

Brexitometers 3 Aug 19
Brexitometers 3 Aug 19

Brexit is definitely a trick and certainly no treat.

(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)

Brexit – the inconvenient truth?

The spivs of brexit will have us believe they thought we were somehow cowed by the EU for 50 years whilst simultaneously being so important they would give them anything. I wonder why they would attempt to persuade everyone of these emotional reactions 🤔

Now I wonder why they would hide the reality of the gains and benefits and influence we enjoyed as a member country? Why would they want to damage our GDP and reduce our influence in the world

Drop in GDP

Could one reason be the Eu tax directives brought in this year?

Eu Directive
EU Directive

The brexit architects keep on lying. Here is some truth for you.

What does the EU do for us?

Maybe they just wanted to complete the right wing takeover started when they frightened David Cameron into holding a referendum the public didn’t want and didn’t need.

EU Anti tax avoidance directive

Keep following us for details of where we will be throughout the summer. You don’t have to stand for the snake oil, you can stand with us instead.

(This article was published on our Twitter page by Pilar, Chester for Europe campaigner)