Pharmaceutical industry at risk from Brexit, warns St Albans lawyer

Chris Cook, partner, head of employment, SA Law, has commented on the EU Referendum

Chris Cook, partner, head of employment, SA Law, has commented on the EU Referendum - Credit: Hannah Couzens

The pharmaceutical industry, which has a large presence locally, will be “exposed to very specific risks in the event of a Brexit”, a St Albans based employment solicitor has warned.

Chris Cook, partner and head of employment at SA Law, Upper Marlborough Road, told the Herts Advertiser that the main area of concern for him ahead of today’s historic EU vote was “the impact that a Brexit would have on work and jobs in the UK.”

He said that with the UK receiving millions of pounds of investment from the EU each day, and millions of jobs directly linked to this country’s trading relationship with the European Union, “a Bexit could well put a number of these jobs at risk, with a recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggesting that a Brexit may lead to the loss of up to 950,000 jobs.”

Chris said that as pharmaceutical was of the UK’s strongest industries and had a ‘substantial’ presence in Hertfordshire, “this industry will be exposed to some very specific risks in the event of a Brexit.

“The UK’s membership of the EU means that currently, UK companies can be granted single market authorisation giving them access to the EU market as a whole.

“If Brexit goes ahead, UK companies may have to obtain separate authorisations in respect of each country which will inevitably result in higher costs and delays, potentially making UK companies less competitive in the global pharmaceutical market.”

Chris added: “UK companies may also find it increasingly difficult to attract employees with relevant expertise and skills from overseas who currently contribute significantly to the pharmaceutical industry.

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“The impact on other regulated industries such as financial services is likely to be similar and organisations and individuals based in London, and nearby commuter areas such as St Albans and Hertsmere are likely to find themselves most affected.”

Asked how an ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote would help the local area in the long term, Chris replied: “At the heart of the EU is free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The UK’s access to the single market is an attractive prospect for investors – a Brexit would potentially remove this access.”

He said if Britain did decide to leave, it would ‘inevitably’ have to retain some kind of trading relationship with the EU.

Chris went on: “There is a lot of uncertainty about how this relationship would work in practice, and the amount of time it would take to negotiate is a legitimate concern.

“The potential advantages and disadvantages of a Brexit are far-reaching and have the potential to impact on a number of different sectors in the UK, from education and farming to energy and travel.”

Chris said it was “difficult to argue” with the positive impact that membership of the EU has on the economy and employment, including protection from discrimination and paid holiday leave, deriving from the European Union.