‘Ludicrous’ Dominic Raab denies Tories wish to sell NHS, despite calling for privatisation in 2011 book

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

The secretary of state Dominic Raab has denied claims that the Conservative Party wishes to sell off the NHS to private operators, despite explicitly advocating for that in a 2011 book he co-authored.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Raab said: "[We're] absolutely clear there's going to be no privatisation of the NHS under the Conservatives' watch or this prime minister's watch

"In relation to drugs, there's going to be no dilution of our protection of consumers in this country. Obviously we want the cheapest and highest quality medicines coming into the NHS, there's going to be no dilution of our position on that whatsoever."

However, in 2011 Raab co-authored a book called After the Coalition with Kwasi Kwarteng, Chris Skidmore, Priti Patel and Liz Truss, in which he calls for private operators to be allowed into the NHS.

"The current monolith should be broken up. Hospitals should be given their independence, extending the Foundation Hospital model - initially controversial but now almost universally accepted," Raab wrote.

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He continued: "New non-profit and private operators should be allowed into the service, and, indeed, should compete on price."

Raab has since face condemnation after suggesting that he never made these comments.

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"You've picked probably a snippet from a pamphlet written a long time ago, but I can tell you categorically I've never advocated privatisation of the NHS," he told Nick Robinson on Today.

Nick Robinson told the Tory hopeful for Esher and Walton "the pamphlet talked about hospitals being run by private companies, it didn't talk about cofee shops and florists and your name was on it".

"It certainly wasn't anything I wrote and Certainly isn't anything I advocate," Raab replied.

He was called a "ludicrous politician" by one person on Twitter, and another said: "He's simply not very bright. Or pleasant. Or honest."

One other person added: " [These are] carefully chosen words. He didn't say it was untrue, leaving room to backtrack and claim he meant that the way the presenter had put it to him was ludicrous."

Shadow Liberal Democrat Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

"It would appear Dominic Raab has chosen to take a play straight from the Johnson/Trump playbook. To claim he has never advocated privatisation of the NHS is distorting the truth at best.

"From the NHS to Brexit, it is no wonder people don't trust a word of what the Conservatives say. That is why more and more people are backing the Liberal Democrats, including in Esher & Walton, to beat the Tories and Stop Brexit."

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