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Hancock says “NHS not for sale” in post-Brexit US trade talks

Tensions rise as President Trump arrives for state visit

NHS

Freer access to the NHS will be part of any post-Brexit US-UK trade deal, according to US Ambassador Woody Johnson. The comments are raising hackles amongst UK politicians and healthcare advocates.

Johnson – a member of the Johnsons & Johnson pharmaceutical family – made the comments on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, saying that healthcare – along with “all things that are traded” – would be on the table in negotiations for a deal.

Woody Johnson

Woody Johnson (right) on the Andrew Marr show

The US is already looking at all the components of a deal and “trying to get everything lined up so that when the time comes we’re ready to go,” said Johnson.

The inclusion of the NHS caused an immediate reaction from UK politicians, including Health Secretary and Tory leadership contender Matt Hancock, who tweeted “My American friends, know this: The NHS is not for sale.”

Reaction to the tweet suggests however not many share his confidence that the NHS will be immune to what the US administration said earlier this year should be “reimbursement regimes [that] are transparent, provide procedural fairness, are non-discriminatory, and provide full market access for US products.”

HANCOCK

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also expressed his concern at the “terrifying” comments, saying that “a real consequence of a no-deal Brexit, followed by a trade deal with Trump, will be our NHS up for sale.”

The People’s Vote campaign meanwhile has also been vocal in its critics of the US position, saying Washington is trying to do away with UK rules that limit what can be charged for drugs under the NHS and will lead to higher prices for patients.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Ed Davey said that “the US ambassador today let the cat out of the bag. Our NHS is indeed up for sale under the Conservatives.”

Johnson’s comments came on the eve of Donald Trump’s arrival in the UK on a state visit, as the President broke diplomatic convention by saying that Boris Johnson would make an excellent Tory leader, and that Nigel Farage should be involved in future negotiations between the UK and EU.

He also said that the UK should be prepared to walk away if it does not get a fair deal from the EU, even though the EU insists that the deal negotiated by Theresa May is not up for further amendment, and said he would not have agreed to the £39bn divorce bill.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd June 2019

From: Healthcare

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