Campaign to protect NHS in US trade talks after Brexit gains momentum

PUBLISHED: 15:39 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:49 18 May 2020

Ministers have been urged to protect the NHS during post-Brexit trade talks with the US. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

Ministers have been urged to protect the NHS during post-Brexit trade talks with the US. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

A campaign calling on MPs to ring-fence the NHS from future trade talks has been gathering momentum across the country.

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Around 5,000 people have contacted their local representative while 27,000 have signed a petition from campaign organisers We Own It requesting specific protections for the NHS ahead of a vote on a new trade bill in parliament this Wednesday.

More than a dozen local papers have also taken up the call, publishing letters from concerned readers.

The government is seeking a second reading of its latest legislation on international trade called the Trade Bill 2019-21 which outlines how the UK would implement and police new deals.

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We Own It campaign officer Ellen Lees described the response as a “popular uprising”.

“The public understands this. That’s why thousands of them have been taking action to demand the trade bill is amended to protect the NHS once and for all,” she said.

“This is nothing less than a popular uprising. We don’t want our NHS privatised even further through a trade deal.

“Now it’s time for MPs of all parties to step up to the plate. They have the power to take the NHS off the table once and for all by amending the trade bill.

“And as Boris Johnson has promised to keep the NHS off the table, the public - 84% of which wants the NHS to remain in public ownership - will keep holding him to that promise.”

According to campaigners, a new trade deal with the US could expose the NHS to paying more for certain drugs. Many also are concerned it could “lock-in” the health system on a path towards privatisation.

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