At Prime Minister’s Questions today Keir Starmer fervently denied saying that he wanted the UK to remain within the European Medicines Agency. Yet as Guido readers will know, Starmer repeatedly demanded that the UK remain within the European Medicines Agency, saying it “ensures that all medicines in the EU market are safe and effective” saying it was an EU agency “we should be seeking to retain, not throw away”. Starmer sailed close to unparliamentary language with his jibe to the PM that “the truth escapes him”. When surely on a Point of Order, Starmer should come back to the despatch box to correct the record about his own untrue denial about the European Medicines Agency?
UPDATE: Mark Francois politely reminded the House that Sir Keir did in fact call for the UK to remain in the European Medicines Agency.
Guido brings you the five times Starmer demanded the UK remain in the Agency:
‘That is short-sighted, as we are now finding in relation to Euratom. Why would we want to be outside the European Aviation Safety Agency, which certifies aircraft before they are allowed to fly? Why would we want to be outside the European Medicines Agency, which ensures that all medicines in the EU market are safe and effective?’
‘Mr Speaker, let me give three examples without the details: the European Aviation Safety Agency, which deals with safety; the European Medicines Agency; and Europol, which I worked with for many years. Those are the bits of the EU that we should be seeking to retain, not throw away’
‘We will seek to maintain membership of or equivalent relations with European organisations which offer benefits to the UK, such as Euratom, the European Medicines Agency, Europol and Eurojust – two agencies I worked closely with as DPP’
‘[We] will also argue for continued membership of agencies such as Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community), the European Aviation Safety Agency (which certifies aircraft before they are allowed to fly), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europol and Eurojust’.
‘Labour knows that leaving the EMA could cause enormous disruption to our pharmaceutical industry (which employs 200,000 people across the UK), lead to additional and unnecessary regulation and cause delays and rising costs for new drugs reaching our National Health Service. The EMA is also based in London and employs 900 people. That is why in January we wrote to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, highlighting our deep concern that he had seemingly given up on the EMA.’