Tory minister Steve Baker: UK must quit nuclear body Euratom after Brexit

Posted On: 
13th July 2017

The row over UK nuclear safety after Brexit stepped up a notch this morning as new minister Steve Baker insisted Britain must quit Euratom when it leaves the EU.

Some argue the UK does not need to leave Euratom when it quits the EU

The Brexit Minister rejected claims made by Tory ex-leader William Hague and the Royal College of Radiologists that quitting the oversight body could harm research.

But the RCR stepped up its calls this morning for assurances that the supply of key diagnostic and cancer-treating materials would not be affected by leaving Euratom.

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European Commission guidance has previously suggested that the UK would have to quit Euratom as a result of Brexit, although it remains an issue of intense legal wrangling.

Asked on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning why the UK cannot leave the EU but maintain membership of Euratom, Mr Baker said: “It’s not as simple as that and it’s not a government choice.”

He pointed to a tweet by Martin Selmayr - the right hand man of European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker - which brands Euratom a “separation issue”.

Mr Baker said: “It is actually necessary to leave Euratom when you leave the European Union for the pragmatic legal reason that the institutions are inseparable from the European Commission, the Council and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

“That’s why we asked members of parliament to vote to leave Euratom at the same time as notifying withdrawing from the European Union.”

The RCR said in a statement this morning: “As a medical royal college, our primary goal is to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of medical services to patients who need scans and non -surgical cancer treatment.

“This is why we are calling for further clarity and dialogue on the future supply of radioisotopes.”

Mr Baker said the Government would be revealing its position on Euratom today, but argued the key radioisotopes concerning the RCR did not fall under the body's remit anyway.

Yesterday First Secretary of State Damian Green branded the warnings about cancer treatment "scaremongering".

'CHOCOLATE ORANGE'

Elsewhere, Mr Baker rejected a claim by National Audit Office boss Amyas Morse that the Government could split apart “like a chocolate orange” if departments fail to approach Brexit in a joined-up manner.

“That is not what I’ve been seeing in the short time I’ve been in the department,” Mr Baker said.

“Going from department to department meeting other ministers and working with civil servants what I see is a great deal of insight vigour, application, clear political direction and serious choices being made.

“And what I see is the whole of government coming together to ensure we are able to leave the European Union smoothly and in a successful and orderly way whatever circumstances we face on exit.”