The US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson has said the National Health Service will be ‘on the table’ in a future post-Brexit trade deal between America and the United Kingdom.
Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr the ambassador denied that a big free trade deal would mean the pharmaceutical companies would get a slice of the NHS, but admitted it would be “on the table” as part of the deal.
He said: “Your national health care service is the pride of the country, and it’s a highly emotionally-charged issue,” before adding: “I think probably the entire economy in a trade deal would be on the table.”
“Which includes the health service?” asked Marr.
“I would think so,” responded Johnson.
Johnson was less clear on whether a condition of a trade deal would involve enforcing US goods on Brits, but said they should have “a choice” on whether they buy the imports.
Anti-Brexit campaigners and environmentalists fear such a deal would allow chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-enhanced beef to be sold on supermarket shelves.
He maintained: “The American food supply is as safe as any in Europe” before adding: “we’re going to have a great relationship with your country whatever happens.”
NHS supporters and anti-Brexit campaigners were horrified by the admissions.
Shahil Parmar said: “This is precisely why Trump endorsed Boris Johnson & Nigel Farage. He knows they want to sell off the NHS.”
Tom Scott wrote: “Get ready for our healthcare to be sold off for the profit of US corporations.”
Freddie van Mierlo tweeted: “Woody Johnson, mouthpiece of Trump, and US Ambassador is epitome of a dick swinging American trying to dictate terms to little old Britain. Insists #NHS is up for grabs in US trade deal and chlorinated chicken is non negotiable. No thanks, I’ll stick with the EU.”
Lib Dem leadership contender and MP Ed Davey said: “The US ambassador today let the cat out of the bag. Our NHS is indeed up for sale under the Conservatives.
“I worry that the government is desperate to sign pretty much anything. We must ensure that access to the NHS is not up for grabs in return for a trade deal.
“A Brexit Britain standing on our own will be in a far weaker negotiating position against Trump and his America First agenda.”