Intended for healthcare professionals


Brexit’s Great Repeal Bill will axe the right to health

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 02 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2013
  1. Peter Roderick, principal research associate1,
  2. Allyson M Pollock, director1
  1. 1Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to: P Roderick peter.roderick{at}

Essential protections will be lost if government plans go ahead

The fundamental right to health in the UK will be lost if the government proceeds with its plan not to convert the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights1 into UK law, as announced in the white paper on the Great Repeal Bill.2

The value of this charter was shown last year, in both EU3 and UK4 courts, when the tobacco industry unsuccessfully challenged the new rules on plain packaging of cigarettes.5 6 One of the industry’s arguments was that the rules violated its rights. Both the EU Court of Justice and the High Court in London used the right to health in article 35 of the charter as a counter weight to that argument. Mr Justice Green made the strongest judicial statement yet in the UK on this critical point:

[Tobacco regulations] are health measures. This is an area of legislative activity to which immense importance is …

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