Shadow health secretary and Labour politician Jonathan Ashworth is planning to visit Brussels in the latest show of Labour’s push to build links with EU figures.
Talking down the UK’s ability to cope outside the EU, sources reveal Mr Ashworth will say the NHS is “absolutely reliant” on European workers and Labour would guarantee their rights while ensuring the NHS and care sector can continue to recruit the staff needed after Brexit.
He will also promise that Labour would ensure medics and carers from other EU states the freedom continue to be able to work in the UK after it has left the bloc.
Feeling it is “utterly unacceptable” for there to be uncertainty about the arrangements after Brexit, he will say Labour would seek to remain part of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
On top of this, Labour would prioritise the negotiation of continued access to reciprocal healthcare schemes or a comparable alternative and stay part of the Horizon 2020 agreement on research funding.
Prime Minister Theresa May used her Mansion House speech to share intentions on remaining part of the EMA, calling for a “far-reaching science and innovation pact” with the EU.
Taking aim at Mrs May’s plans, Mr Ashworth will vow Labour will not sign off on a Brexit deal “that turns the clock back on medical innovation” or means patients face extended waits for new treatments.
Setting out his Brexit “red line”, the Labour MP will say: “Given the scale of trade between the UK and the EU on medicines, but perhaps more fundamentally given disease knows no borders, it would be great folly to dismiss the huge benefits that the UK and the EU27 have gained from our close relationship over the past 40 years.
“It is utterly unacceptable to put patient safety at risk because of lack of certainty about medicine regulation post-Brexit.
“Slow progress on reaching a deal could mean delays accessing potentially life-saving treatments, harming patient and public health in both the UK and EU.
“Labour will not sign off on a Brexit deal that turns the clock back on medical innovation or sees patients in the UK having to wait longer to get access to life-changing treatments.
“It is a red line for me and it is a red line for the Labour Party.”
The Conservatives have dismissed Mr Ashworth’s claims as “opportunistic scaremongering”.
A spokesman said: “While we will seek to remain part of the European Medicines Agency, we have been clear that no matter what people will of course still have access to the medicine they need.”