News | Published December 03 2019

Corbyn writes to Trump calling for NHS reassurances ahead of NATO summit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to US president Donald Trump ahead of a summit to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO, calling for “clarity” that the NHS would be off the table in a future trade deal.

Corbyn said that under a Labour government there would be “no deal” with the US if Washington wanted the NHS to be included in trade talks, after claiming that the health service would be “up for sale” if the Conservatives are re-elected on December 12.

He has now made the move of writing to Trump, saying that the British public requires “urgent clarity that our NHS is genuinely off the table”.

In his correspondence to Trump, Corbyn urged the president to exclude any references to pharmaceuticals from trade talks and rule out the sharing of patient data, alongside withdrawal of the US demand for total market access.

Corbyn said that this would “go a long way to reassuring the British public that the US government will not be seeking total market access to the UK public services" and simultaneously make it clear that the US "accepts that our NHS is not for sale in any form".

Prime minister Boris Johnson has reiterated that the NHS would not be on the table in any trade talks, calling Corbyn’s claims nonsensical.

The row between the two leading parties over the NHS has recently intensified after Corbyn revealed an allegedly uncensored report that detailed six rounds of negotiations between US and UK officials ahead of trade talks, which signalled US interest in drug pricing and making “total market access” a starting point in future trade talks.

In the wake of Corbyn’s claims, foreign secretary Dominic Raab accused the Labour leader of diversion tactics, saying that Corbyn “wants to talk about anything else other than the fact [Labour] have got no plan for Brexit and no plan for the economy”.

Raab told BBC Radio Four that their would be “no dilution of our protection of consumers in this country” over drug prices and no privatisation “under the Conservatives’ watch or this prime minister’s watch.”

Raab said: "The reality is those decisions [about the NHS being involved in future trade talks] will be made by the United Kingdom in the best interest of patients and consumers at heart."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has sought reassurances from Boris Johnson that any post-Brexit trade deals with the US will not see British farmers “undercut by low-standard imports”.

Swinson has claimed that the documents made public by Corbyn signal US interest in greater use of chemicals being permitted in British foord production, including chlorine-washing of poultry products.

Swinson said: "Johnson's desperation for a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump means UK farmers risk being undercut by low-standard imports from the US.

"Boris Johnson must give a guarantee that our farmers and world-leading food standards will not be sacrificed on the altar of a Trump trade deal."

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 03 2019

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