- Theresa May accused of giving Donald Trump “green light to get his hands on our NHS”
- PM refuses to answer questions days after Trump attacks Britain’s NHS
- May in crunch talks with hardline Brexiteer Tories
- MP’s demand assurances British hospitals not open for trade deal carve up
- Jeremy Hunt asked to confirm no greater access for US companies
MP’s have renewed calls on Theresa May to rule out forced privatisation of the NHS in any post-Brexit US trade deal.
The Tory leader yet again refused to rule out selling off the NHS in Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, leading MP’s to demand reassurances from her last night.
Under the European Union’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US, the EU had negotiated assurances that nations would be free to control their own health services and avoid forced privatisation and legal actions that would make reversing health service sell offs almost impossible.
As this letter from the European Council makes clear, “We use a series of reservations in EU trade agreements to make sure that EU Member State governments (at all levels, from central government to local authorities) can continue to manage their public services however they see fit.
“For example, we reserve the right for governments to operate monopolies and grant exclusive rights for selected providers, whether these are public or private operators. We make sure that governments do not have to open up any of their public services markets (such as publicly-funded health services) to private operators if they do not want to, and that should they choose to do so, there is nothing to prevent them reversing this decision in future.
“Member States have the possibility to modulate reservations according to their needs as part of EU trade negotiations. The UK is covered by these reservations, has always followed this approach, and is free to decide to continue to do so in TTIP.”
These hard won negotiations were no thanks to Conservatives who have been courting US healthcare firms as part of their overhaul of the NHS which has made it harder to stop sell offs, part privatisations and outsourcing of NHS services which have placed billions of pounds worth of NHS assets in private hands.
The US has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world and after Donald Trump criticised the UK’s National Health Service, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable asked the Prime Minister again this week to confirm that the “NHS is not for sale.”
But yet again she side-stepped the question, refusing to give any guarantees.
“The Prime Minister knows that one of the key objectives of American trade negotiators in any future deal after Brexit is to secure access for American companies to do business in the NHS.
“Will she give an absolute guarantee that the NHS will be excluded from the scope of those negotiations? Will she also confirm that she has made it absolutely clear to President Trump in her conversations with him that the NHS is not for sale?” asked Sir Vince Cable.
“We are starting the discussions with the American Administration, first of all looking at what we can already do to increase trade between the US and the United Kingdom—even before the possibility of any free trade agreement,” replied the PM, adding:
“The right honourable gentleman does not know what the American Administration are going to say about their requirements for that free trade agreement. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.”
Sinister?Theresa May refuses to confirm "NHS is not for sale" in post Brexit US trade deal:#ShareThis #OurNHS #SaveourNHS #Trump #Brexit #TheresaMay #Tories #PMQs #TLE
Posted by The London Economic on Wednesday, 7 February 2018
“Theresa May just gave Donald Trump the green light to get his hands on our National Health Service,” warned Labour MP Peter Kyle, a supporter of the Open Britain campaign. He warned:
“Just days after the US President took to Twitter to insult the NHS, the Prime Minister was given a clear opportunity to rule out opening up our health service to private competition from US companies.
“Her clear refusal to do so underlines her weakness in trade negotiations and should concern us all.”
Donald Trump this week, criticising Democrat calls for America to guarantee healthcare for all, tweeted that Britain’s NHS “is going broke and not working.”
Theresa May this week enters crunch talks with the hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative Government who want the PM to ensure Britain is not bound by EU regulations or even shares a Customs Union guaranteeing free trade with Europe.
WIth the Prime Minister looking more vulnerable than ever from the plotters on the far right of her party, they are demanding that she makes Britain as attractive as possible to trading partners from further afield, like the US or China.
It was left up to the PM’s spokesman to later attempt to diffuse teh growing clamour for Theresa May to provide leadership on protecting Britain’s hospitals in any post Brexit trade deals. Her spokesman insisted that the PM had last year made clear that “the NHS is not for sale and it never will be.”
“Any trade deal ensures decisions about public services continue to be made by UK governments, not by our trade partners,” said the spokesman.
“The UK’s public health sector is protected by specific exceptions and reservations in all EU trade arrangements and, as we leave the EU, the UK will continue to ensure that rigorous protections for the NHS are included in all trade agreements it is party to.”
But MP’s from all sides remained sceptical and sought reassurance from the PM.
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Make no mistake, an extreme Brexit is a profound threat to our health service – and MPs who love the NHS need to oppose the Tory Brexit plans.”
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth questioned why Theresa May had refused to guarantee that British hospitals would not be fair game for profiteering American companies when asked in Parliament.
“Our NHS should never be up for sale. That’s not something you just forget,” insisted Ashworth.
“Theresa May’s comments today exposed the Tories’ shaky commitment to our NHS in the quest to cosy up to Donald Trump.”
Former health minister Ben Bradshaw MP last night wrote to Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, demanding he ensure that the NHS is excluded from any US trade negotiations.
Bradshaw who is a member of the Health Select Committee, wrote:
“This is a matter of grave concern to everyone who cares about the future of the NHS. It is quite extraordinary that the Government does not yet have a position on whether it will fully protect the health service in future trade negotiations.
“It is even more remarkable coming just days after President Trump took to Twitter to attack the principle of a publicly-funded National Health Service…
“Voters were promised a stronger and better-funded health service after Brexit, bolstered by an alleged £350m extra per week. Nobody was told that leaving the EU would result in trade negotiations with the United States involving the NHS. And there is little public support for such a policy. So there should be no equivocation from the Government.”
“Could you therefore confirm that you will use your position to ensure that the NHS is excluded from any negotiations with the United States, and that you would not support any trade deal that allowed greater access for American companies?
“Anything less will only create further anxiety at a time when the NHS is already experiencing such severe pressures.”