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Trump backtracks on ‘NHS on the table’ comments

Echoes mixed message at home about healthcare

Trump May

After creating a furore yesterday by suggesting that everything would be on the table in a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal – including access to the NHS – President Donald Trump abruptly reversed his stance.

Responding to journalist questions at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, Trump was asked whether US company’s access to the NHS would be part of a trade deal.

He replied: “I think everything with a trade deal is on the table. So NHS or anything else, or a lot more than that. But everything will be on the table, absolutely.” That echoed comments made by US Ambassador Woody Johnson ahead of the state visit which were also met with stern criticism.

Fast forward a few hours, and Trump backtracked on his earlier position when challenged in an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

“I don’t see it being on the table,” said the President. “Somebody asked me a question today and I say everything’s up for negotiation because everything is. But I don’t see that being…That’s something that I would not consider part of trade. That’s not trade.”

In between those two responses came a bevy of responses from UK doctors and politicians from both sides of the House of Commons, arguing that the NHS should be ring-fenced, with Remain-leaning MPs arguing that this is another reason why a second vote is needed on Brexit.

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There was also no small amount of scepticism that the US administration would hold back from trying to gain freer access for pharmaceuticals in any future negotiations – regardless of what the President says on the hoof.

The White House said clearly earlier this year that any trade deal should include “reimbursement regimes [that] are transparent, provide procedural fairness, are non-discriminatory, and provide full market access for US products.”

Health Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Matt Hancock tweeted his position once again that “the NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks - and never will be. Not on my watch,” before welcoming the apparent U-turn:

Hancock

A similar stance was taken by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Hancock’s predecessor as Health Secretary and another leadership candidate, who fold the BBC that “I can’t conceive of any future Prime Minister, of any party, ever agreeing that we would allow NHS procurement to be part of trade talks.”

“That’s not to say that pharmaceuticals…that are freely traded between countries shouldn’t be discussed, but the ownership of the NHS and NHS services – I can’t imagine that would ever be part of trade negotiations.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) also responded to the notion that the NHS should be included in trade deals yesterday, saying that “profit should never take priority over the protection of the health service and the healthcare of citizens.”

It serves as a “clear warning of how important it is that the UK Government commits to excluding the NHS from any future trade agreements post-Brexit.”

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth meanwhile said that “US corporations taking over our NHS is a nightmare scenario.

“The Tories appear happy to give Trump what he wants, and some want to offer up our NHS to get the No Deal Brexit they are campaigning for,” he claimed

Article by
Phil Taylor

5th June 2019

From: Healthcare

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