Corbyn accuses Johnson of plotting to open NHS to US pharma companies in secret trade deal with Trump

Ben Gartside
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during general election campaign event in Swindon, Britain November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking during an election campaign event in Swindon, Britain on 2 November. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Boris Johnson of making a secret deal with US President Donald Trump over the NHS in a speech in Harlow on Tuesday.

In a speech pledging to “get Brexit sorted”, Corbyn is set to accuse the Conservative leader of “[hijacking] Brexit to sell out our NHS and working people by stripping away their rights.”

Describing Johnson’s agenda as “Thatcherism on steroids”, he will accuse Johnson of trying to “reverse hard-fought gains won by working class people over generations.”

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Corbyn will also say: “Johnson stood in front of a bus and promised £350m a week for the NHS. Now we find out that £500m a week could be taken out of the NHS and handed to big drugs companies under his plans for a sell-out trade deal with Donald Trump.

“We now know that US and UK officials have been discussing drug pricing in secret and the US government is demanding “full market access for US products.” Senior NHS managers have said that would mean “higher prices for medicines” which will “pass on costs to both patients and the NHS.”

“Behind the scenes, the Conservatives have tried to suppress the news, attacking the BBC for reporting what we and health professionals are saying. This is what they don’t want you to hear: a vote for Johnson’s Conservatives is a vote to betray our NHS in a sell-out to Trump.”

Corbyn’s attacks on Johnson’s approach to the NHS come as the centre-left think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed that cuts to public health budget have hit the poorest communities hardest. According to their research, £1 in every £7 cut from public health services has come from the 10 most deprived communities in England, while the 10 least deprived communities accounted for just £1 in every £46 of the cuts.

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Corbyn also attacked the potential lowering of food standards in a trade deal with the US, which the government has repeatedly denied it would do.

He said: “This threat to our NHS isn’t a mistake. It’s not happening by accident. The threat is there because Boris Johnson’s Conservatives want to hijack Brexit to sell out the NHS and sell out working people by stripping away their rights.

“Given the chance, they’ll run down our rights at work and our entitlements to holidays, breaks and leave.

“Given the chance, they’ll slash food standards to US levels where ‘acceptable levels’ of rat hairs in paprika and maggots in orange juice are allowed and they’ll put chlorinated chicken on our supermarket shelves.

“And given the chance, they’ll water down the rules on air pollution and our environment that keep us safe.

“They want a race to the bottom in standards and protections. They want to move us towards a more deregulated American model of how to run the economy.”

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