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Corbyn warns Trade Bill leaves the NHS open to US healthcare ‘vultures’

The former Labour leader warns nothing in the Bill would protect the NHS from further privatisation in any future British-US trade deals

JEREMY CORBYN warned that the NHS is being laid bare for US healthcare privateers as of the Trade Bill returned to the Commons today.

The Islington North MP and former Labour leader noted that there is nothing in the Bill that would stop the NHS from being left vulnerable to further privatisation in any future British-US trade deals.

He said: “There’s nothing in it to stop the vultures in the US private healthcare industry getting their hands on our NHS.”

The Bill was debated after the Star went to press.

In November the then Labour leader handed out to journalists some 450 pages of unredacted documents that he said showed the NHS would be on the table in British-US negotiations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had angrily denied it as a “complete invention” when faced with the redacted version but Mr Corbyn said that the uncensored version left “Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.”

Mr Corbyn said today that an overwhelming majority of the British public are against the idea of having the health service as part of negotiations and want specific measures in place to prevent it from happening.

He pointed to polling commissioned by public-ownership campaign group We Own It published today on protections for the NHS in the Bill.

Three quarters of the public want such protections, according to the poll conducted by Survation. Just 14 per cent of people do not.

Campaigners say that failing to protect the NHS from trade deals would open up the service to being charged more for medicines, enshrine the rights of US healthcare companies to access the NHS in international treaties and lock in privatisation that would be “incredibly difficult” for a future government to reverse. 

Mr Johnson has continually denied such claims, stating that the NHS is not “on the table” in trade talks with the US. But the Survation poll found that nearly half of the public do not believe him.

We Own It director Cat Hobbs said: “People up and down the country are absolutely furious. They’re totally sick of Boris Johnson’s lies and the carve-up of our NHS.

“This government promised us they’d ‘take back control,’ but they’re doing the opposite: trying to ban MPs from being able to scrutinise trade deals.

“They promised to ‘keep the NHS off the table.’ They’re doing the opposite: privatising our NHS piece by piece and getting it ready to hand over to Trump.

“It’s disgusting, especially after everything nurses, doctors and healthcare staff have done for us in this pandemic.”

A series of amendments to the Bill have been submitted. Labour has called for a commitment to protect the NHS from outside control and a review every five years of each new agreement the government signs up to.

A further amendment tabled by Tory Jonathan Djanogly would give Parliament the new power to scrutinise and vote on future trade deals. More than 6,000 people have written to MPs asking them to support this amendment.

It stands in addition to the more than 1.2 million people who have signed a Keep Our NHS Public petition calling for the government to protect the NHS from trade deals.

Ms Hobbs urged all Tory MPs to follow the lead of the “handful of Conservative MPs” and the opposition parties who have demanded protections for the NHS.

She said: “This is about basic democracy, basic scrutiny, basic sovereignty. Taking back control should mean having control of our own laws and our own public services, not selling them off to the highest bidder.”

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