Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour has obtained official documents showing that the US is demanding that the NHS will be ‘on the table’ in talks on a post-Brexit trade deal.
The Labour leader said the uncensored papers gave the lie to Boris Johnson’s claims that the NHS would not be part of any trade talks.
The 451 pages of documents related to a UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group covers six rounds of talks in Washington and London between July 2017 and “just a few months ago”.
Originally only a redacted version of the documents were revealed as part of a Freedom of Information request, but now Labour has the full information, which they claim leaves “Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters”.
He said the documents confirm that “the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale”, and that “this election is a fight for the survival of the NHS”.
Speaking at a press conference Jeremy Corbyn said: “We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda but today it’s been exposed.
“Now we know the truth, when Johnson says, ‘get Brexit done’, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality. Years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale.”
Although the documents do not appear to relate to Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister, he called on the Tory leader to “come clean” about what his party were planning for Britain after Brexit.
On medicine pricing, Corbyn said the documents showed discussions had already been concluded between the two sides on lengthening patents.
“Longer patents can only mean one thing – more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this,” he said.
He pointed to the example to the drug Humira – used to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis – which costs the NHS £1,409 a packet while in the US the price was £8,115.
Corbyn said that according to the readout of the second meeting, UK officials noted the “patent issues” around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration” in talks.
By the fourth meeting, he said, the officials on the two sides were ready to “exchange text” and to “really take significant further steps” – suggesting the negotiations were at a “very advanced stage”.
On other matters in the talks Jeremy Corbyn pointed to the fact the documents show how the Americans offered to give the British lines to use to defend chlorinated chicken, and he highlighted the fact the Americans refused to allow a mention of climate change in the deal.
Addressing journalists, Corbyn told a press conference: “Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale”.
Earlier this year Donald Trump claimed that the NHS would have to be on the table during post-Brexit trade talks, before rowing back on the comments after outrage.
The Tories have been asked for comment.