Will the NHS be 'for sale' after Brexit?

Criticism – Mr Cable branded Mrs May’s answer to his question a “pathetic non-committal response” More

Mrs May was asked by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable to confirm that she had made it "absolutely clear" to Donald Trump that the "NHS is not for sale".

For example, during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Sir Vince Cable asked Theresa May whether she could give "an absolute guarantee" that the NHS will be excluded from the upcoming negotiations about a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.

Speaking after Theresa May's evasive Commons performance, an official spokesman later clarified that the prime minister had made clear that "the NHS is not for sale and it never will be" in February 2017.

May replied: "We are starting the discussions with the American administration, first of all looking at what we can do to increase trade between the U.S. and the United Kingdom already, even before the possibility of any free trade agreement".

However, both the White House and British government said their discussion did not touch on the US president's remarks on the NHS, focusing instead on more pressing matters.

Under the European Union's Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States, the EU had negotiated assurances that nations would be free to control their own health services and avoid forced privatisation and legal actions that would make reversing health service sell offs nearly impossible.

"The right honourable gentleman does not know what the American Administration are going to say about their requirements for that free trade agreement".

One user pointed out that if the PM had no intention of selling off the NHS to its U.S. ally, she would have taken the opportunity to say so right on the spot. The Prime Minister's comments reflected that fact.

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A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister stressed the great importance of the legislation to the United Kingdom authorities in investigating criminal and terrorist activity in the UK".

'The point here is we are not into the detail of those discussions'.

But the Prime Minister appeared to sidestep the question, saying the UK would "go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom".

Asked why the principle from TTIP could not be restated for the new talks, the spokesman said: 'I have set out an existing position and I have told what the Prime Minister said in the House, that we do not have existing position on a trade deal that is yet to be negotiated'.

However, he would not rule out, in principle, USA private sector involvement in the NHS in future.

"The UK's public health sector is protected by specific exceptions and reservations in all European Union trade arrangements and, as we leave the European Union, the UK will continue to ensure that rigorous protections for the NHS are included in all trade agreements it is party to".

'Theresa May's refusal to rule that out is both alarming and unacceptable.


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