Doctor asks Brexiteer what level of mortality rate he is willing to accept to deliver Brexit

PUBLISHED: 10:41 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:56 03 September 2019

Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC Radio. Image: LBC/Global.

Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC Radio. Image: LBC/Global.

Archant

A doctor involved in giving expert opinion to the government about a no-deal Brexit has been told by a Brexiteer MP that he should be 'ashamed' for asking him about mortality rates.

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Doctor David Nichol, a consultant urologist from Birmingham, said he was involved giving expert opinion on the NHS to government officials for the Yellowhammer documents earlier this year and was concerned about what could happen if the UK leaves the EU on October 31st.

He explained to Nick Ferrari and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC Radio: "Having been involved in writing the plans for mitigation [of a no-deal Brexit] and having whistle blown because I thought they were unsafe, what level of mortality rate are you willing to accept in the light of a no-deal Brexit?"

As the Brexiteer sipped his coffee and took a deep breath, the Brexiteer composed himself to say: "I don't think there's any reason to suppose that a no-deal Brexit should lead to a mortality rate, I think this is the worst excess of project fear, and I'm surprised that a doctor in your position would be fear-mongering in this way on public radio."

But the unimpressed doctor responded: "May I remind you I wrote the plans for mitigation."

The Brexiteer snapped back: "Well you didn't write very good plans if you haven't worked out how to mitigate. It's fortunate they are being written by other people who are serious about mitigating rather than remoaners."

The doctor pointed out that it had been reported there were no plans to update the documents.

He said: "Except to stop you there in the Sunday Times yesterday, the Royal Colleges who are involved with having contact with the Department of Health have not yet been approached to update these documents... so that's incorrect."

Presenter Nick Ferrari, who has openly admitted to backing Leave, then stepped in to ask the doctor about the mortality rate he expected. "We don't know that," responded the doctor. "That's not part of Yellowhammer. I'll remind you that Michael Gove said this is the 'worst case scenario' but that is incorrect, Yellowhammer is not the worst case scenario."

Brexiteer Ferrari took Rees-Mogg's sceptical tone. He asked: "Why are people going to die?"

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The doctor continued: "Because of all sorts of problems - because of issues with access to drugs, because of issues to isotopes - that have already been highlighted. But when you get people at the Royal College who say they are very worried..."

But both Rees-Mogg and Ferrari tried to assure listeners that it was not the case. They said both the health secretary and the boss of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry have said they would fly drugs in if there is a no-deal Brexit.

As the presenter tried to rap the call up, an aggrieved Rees-Mogg said: "This is a major focus of government policy, I think it is deeply irresponsible Dr Nichol of you to call in and try and spread fear across the country. I think it is typical of Remainer campaigners and you should be quite ashamed, I'm afraid."

The doctor was quite happy to keep the argument going off-air. He said: "This is why I contacted the GMC [General Medical Council], I am quite happy to refer me to the GMC and we can talk about it there."

Earlier this year health secretary Matt Hancock appeared to concede that people could die from a no-deal Brexit. The claims became the focus of a Led By Donkeys billboard campaign as they highlighted the change of opinion after Boris Johnson came to power.

Best for Britain supporter Dr Paul Williams said it showed the "little regard" that the government has "for those who rely on medicines".

"Jacob Rees-Mogg may use the term Project Fear but I'm afraid this is Project Reality. We were promised more money for the NHS, yet the government's Brexit policy means we won't have sufficient medical supplies.

"There is no mandate for a No-Deal Brexit and the government would do well to remember that."

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