11/08/2020

The Chemistry of Brexit

By Peter Cook
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It’s just a trifle between friends, but our Russian connection Irina reports that the UK Chemical Industry faces a loss of up to £7 billion from Brexit. The chemical industry contributes £18 billion to the country, employs 500 000 people and contributes £50 billion in exports. Not exactly a trifling matter.

The Royal Society of Chemistry undertook a comprehensive survey on Brexit and found that only 4% of 5000 respondents felt positive about the impact of Brexit on science.

I started life as a Chemist, working on breakthrough treatments for HIV / AIDS and human insulin. We have already seen the relocation of the Medicines Control Agency away from London. So what, you might say? Well, the UK is currently part of the first tier for novel drug approvals as our standards are aligned with Europe. After Brexit divergence of standards, the UK will move towards the back of the queue for novel drug registration approvals with the rest of the world. Boris Johnson has been told that he needs to deal with medicine shortages under Brexit. Given his responses to Corona, we think it unlikely he will act and this will result in “death by Brexit”:

Brexit enthusiasts such as Jacob Rees-Mogg talk in vigorous tones about the notion of a bonfire on standards. Sadly Jacob studied Latin at school and does not realise that standards have a purpose for safeguarding etc.

Brexit … a bonfire on standards …

When I worked at the pharma company we occasionally used to source new suppliers of chemicals. I recall receiving a shipment of paracetamol from a new supplier. On opening the keg, it contained a large amount of straw. This is why we have standards.

Coming closer to recent times, Peter Daws was discussing Brexit with a hairdresser in Chatham. She said she wanted Brexit as the EU were preventing her from using toxic dyes on her client’s hair. She demanded the right to poison her customers! Is that in any way sane? By the way, the EU have banned a number of ingredients used in hair dyes and there are plenty of viable alternatives. Write to me if you demand the right to poison your customers and we can talk.

I experienced the same issue when collecting some printed materials from a local print shop. The printer complained that he had to buy new equipment, because the existing machines produced dangerous emissions. I calmly explained that we had to remove toxic dyes from our pharma products in the 1980’s and it was the nature of all progress to act when new knowledge was available. He shrugged. In my long experience of business and management, it does not do anything for profitability and performance to poison your staff. Call me a snowflake if you wish.

Write to your MP and make these facts known to them.

It’s not too late to suspend Brexit so please join us on ZOOM every Wed at 8 pm.

Do you work in the Chemical or related industries? Have a story to share? Write to us via brexitrage@academy-of-rock.co.uk