LONDON: Britain’s main opposition Labour party on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of plotting a “toxic” deal with President Donald Trump to allow US pharmaceutical companies access to the state health service.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held up what he claimed were 451 pages of previously secret documents that proved Johnson was seeking to put the National Health Service (NHS) on the table in a post-Brexit trade deal.
Britain goes to the polls on December 12, with Johnson hoping to secure a majority to be able to push through his divorce deal to take the country out of the European Union.
However, the funding and running of the NHS is a recurring election topic. Johnson’s Conservatives accused a “desperate” Corbyn of “out-and-out lying” by peddling “conspiracy theory-fuelled nonsense.”
Corbyn had previously obtained a redacted version of the documents.
But the Labour leader said the unredacted version catalogued six meetings between US and UK officials since 2017, detailing “what they (the Conservatives) don’t want you to know”.
“The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal,” Corbyn told reporters in central London.
The sale of the NHS was the government’s “secret agenda”, he added, warning that the coming election was “a fight for the survival of the National Health Service as a public service”.
“It’s already being talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service,” he added.
“Megacorporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.”
Talks were at “an advanced stage” and could see an increase in the cost of generic drugs, he claimed.
For his part, Trump told Britain’s LBC radio last month that he was not interested in the NHS.
“We wouldn’t be involved in that,” the US president said.
“It’s not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system. We’re just talking about trade.
“I don’t even know where that started… with respect to us taking over your healthcare system. It’s so ridiculous.”
Trump is due to visit Britain next week for the Nato summit on December 3-4, when the issue is likely to resurface. — AFP