The potential sale of the NHS to the US following Brexit has been a hot topic and debating point for political parties across the board, as the UK look to secure a trade agreement with America after departing from the EU. Opinion is divided, as was showcased on last night’s BBC Question Time, where guests on the panel debated whether a Tory Government would sell off the NHS, or parts of the NHS.
It runs contrary to the Prime Minister’s, Boris Johnson, assurance that he has no plans to put the NHS up for sale.
Though, many people are sceptical of Mr Johnson’s promises, as he has proven to consistently lie about various policy issues in the past.
One audience member thought the debate to have been blown out of proportion by the opposition in the run up to December’s general election.
He claimed Labour to have embarked on a campaign of fear mongering.
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The audience member accused Labour of whipping up fears over the NHS
He said: “It seems like Labour are trying to whip up a storm in a tea cup over these NHS documents.
“All they’re really trying to do is turn the attention away from their floundering on Brexit.”
The comment came following the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, revealing documents at a Labour rally that he claimed to be “proof” that the NHS was at risk under a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.
Mr Corbyn said he had a 451-page document showing preliminary talks had taken place.
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Labour’s Andy McDonald talked about the prospect of the NHS being sold-off
These talks, he said, proved that the NHS was for sale.
Mr Johnson hit back at the claims, saying Mr Corbyn was talking “nonsense” and the NHS isn’t and will never be part of the trade talks.
Additionally, the Tory Manifesto explicitly states neither the price paid for drugs nor NHS services will be “on the table”.
Make Dayan, a policy analyst and head of public affairs at the Nuffield Trust think tank said the NHS was not being “flogged off” in the sense that US companies will now have access to buy and own hospitals.
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Jeremy Corbyn revealed documents he claimed to prove the UK was ready to sell the NHS
Boris Johnson denies the claims
Yet, he admitted the documents suggest the US is trying various tactics to get the NHS to pay more money to their pharmaceutical companies for the drugs they sell.
He told the BBC: “Obviously from the NHS’s point of view, that is a concern, you’re really losing out in that situation.”
Mr Dayan said if talks with the US continue, UK negotiators must “push hard for the interests of the UK and the NHS”.
The documents in question are uncensored papers covering six rounds of talks between US and UK
officials in Washington and London between July 2017 and July 2019.
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They appear to be preparatory meetings ahead of formal trade talks.
The documents add to Channel 4’s Dispatches programme investigation last month.
The report found that the price the NHS pays for US medicines could soar under a trade deal with America after the UK leaves the EU.
According to research carried out by Dispatches, the cost to the UK Government could run into the billions.
Estimates priced the cost at around £27billion, which would wipe out the potential Brexit bonus for the NHS promised by Mr Johnson.
As well as soaring costs from the pharmaceutical industry, the talks also covered areas including agriculture and climate change.
Tory Brandon Lewis also said his party had no plan on selling the NHS
The UK inquired about a reference to climate change in any US-UK trade deal, to which the US said was not allowed by congress.
Talks also made reference to the US requiring “total market access” as a starting point to any trade deal.
There is no evidence as of yet to suggest the UK has agreed to anything revealed in the talks over the two year period.