Health Secretary ‘told Brexit crunch Cabinet he could not guarantee people wouldn't die under no deal’

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reportedly told fellow ministers during the crunch Brexit deal meeting that he could not guarantee people wouldn’t die as a result of a no deal exit from the EU.

Mr Hancock was locked inside Downing Street for five hours with the Cabinet last night, as minsters finally approved the terms of the draft deal.

Speaking the morning after the deal was announced by Theresa May, Mr Hancock refused to confirm or deny his reported comments.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reportedly said he could not guarantee people wouldn’t die under a no-deal Brexit (Getty)
Theresa May is facing a threat to her leadership over her plans for Brexit (Getty)

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he would not go into what people had said behind closed doors, but said the prospect of no deal was ‘not pretty’ for healthcare.

He added: “We are working very hard to ensure that people have the unhindered flow and access to medicines that they need.

“There is a lot of work to do that but I hope that by this deal we can avoid a no-deal Brexit, we can avoid a second referendum and we can have a high-quality future with the EU, and that is what this deal provides.”

COUNTDOWN TO BREXIT – LATEST ANALYSIS FROM YAHOO UK

Where do Theresa May’s ministers stand on Brexit?
Post-Brexit trip to Europe? Try these non-EU alternatives
Bank of England governor ‘confident’ about UK banks’ Brexit readiness
Don’t be fooled – the biggest battle over Brexit starts now
Hard Brexit ‘could cripple UK science’ warn Nobel Prize winners

Reports from the meeting suggested that tensions ran high, with Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey, who has since resigned, and Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom said to be ‘in tears’.

Mr Hancock said the discussions at the Cabinet meeting had been civil but ‘open and frank’, adding: ‘I didn’t see any tears.’

Mrs May faces a fight for her political survival today after four ministers, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and three ministerial aides resigned in protest.

Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey is among those rumoured to be on the verge of resigning (Getty)
All the key dates in the countdown to Brexit (PA)

Ms Leadsom and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt are also reported to be on the brink of quitting.

Prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote to all Tory MPs urging them to reject the deal but Mr Hancock said MPs should back the PM’s Brexit plan because the alternatives to it are ‘ugly’.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned this morning in protest at the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal (Getty)
The ministerial resignations since the 2017 General Election (PA)

He warned that failing to get the deal agreed with Brussels through Parliament would either lead to a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum and the risk of not leaving at all.

He told BBC News: “All MPs should vote for it because this deal is in the national interest.

“The two alternatives are deeply unattractive and as people read the detail of it and look at the deal in the round, rather than the bits and pieces that have come out in the newspapers during the latter stages of the negotiations, anybody in any compromise negotiated document can pick out individual parts that they would prefer were written differently.”