Contenders in the race to be the next prime minister moved to distance themselves from Donald Trump’s call for the NHS to be covered by a new UK-US post-Brexit trade deal.
Health secretary Matt Hancock stressed “the NHS isn’t on the table” and “never will be” under him.
Dominic Raab said the NHS “is not for sale” and would not be if he was in Number 10.
Fellow Tory leadership contender Sam Gyimah also hit back at Trump’s suggestion, saying the NHS “should not be used as a bargaining chip” in the talks.
And international development secretary Rory Stewart said he would not be “offering up” the NHS in any trade deal.
Negotiations on a future trade deal after Brexit will be carried out under Theresa May’s successor and the US will be keen for all areas of the British economy to be covered.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed “Tory leadership contenders” and Nigel Farage were “lining up” a US trade agreement as part of their plans for a no-deal Brexit.
“They all need to understand: our NHS is not for sale,” he said.
Sara Gordon, head of health at the Unison union, said: “The government shouldn’t stoop to allowing the NHS to be used as a bargaining chip.”
The GMB union’s national secretary Rehana Azam said Trump is “just waiting to get his hands on our NHS” and “there’s a very real danger Conservatives will just hand it over to him in a trade deal”.
Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Sir Ed Davey said: “Those who called for Brexit on the basis it would mean better trade deals for the UK should hang their heads in shame.”