NHS privatisation? Don’t remember that being on the bus!

NHS privatisation? Don’t remember that being on the bus!

Theresa May’s plan for leaving the single market has left us at the mercy of other countries, who will seek to exploit our markets and public services for their own gain, and yet we are powerless to prevent this because we need them more than they need us. The UK has backed itself into a corner over Brexit.

Donald Trump, the human incarnation of a Wotsit, has promised to put ‘America first’ under his administration and this does not bode well for any future US-UK free trade deal, especially considering Trump has promised to slash America’s already flimsy regulations by 75%. This is in spite of deluded May’s assertion that any trade deal will put UK interests first. For a UK-US trade deal to be agreed, America would need as much access to UK markets as possible – meaning regulations will have to be dramatically cut to accommodate this.

This is incredibly problematic if we are aiming to get a good trade deal with the US that would replace the EU single market access we currently have. Even if we somehow, the UK got a good trade deal with the US without having to slash any regulations, our exports to the US in 2014 generated $51 billion whilst our exports to Germany and The Netherlands alone generated $80.7 billion according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). Access to the EU’s single market was the most economically beneficial – if imperfect – trade relationship for the UK; one that cannot be replicated by increased free trade with the US.

Yet what is most alarming about a US-EU trade deal is Theresa May’s openness to the idea of US corporations gaining involvement in the British healthcare sector. Whilst May has reaffirmed her belief of ensuring the NHS “will always remain free at the point of delivery,” the possibility of the predatory healthcare industry of America playing a role in British healthcare should trouble anyone who supports the NHS.

Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth believes that any UK-US trade deal must not be a “Trojan horse for NHS privatisation.” With NHS England’s budgets getting tighter each year and the recent claims by the Red Cross that the NHS is in “humanitarian crisis,” American healthcare companies can take advantage of the situation by investing in NHS hospitals and services, making them expensive to fully nationalise again and allowing US healthcare companies to opportunity to sue the UK government for breaking the trade agreement by seeking to monopolise the healthcare market.
The Leave Campaigns tirelessly trashed the TTIP (Trans Trade and Investment Partnership) for allowing the possibility of NHS privatisation, which is a legitimate criticism of TTIP yet they fall silent on the issue when it comes to a UK-US trade deal and hold nothing but praise for Donald Trump’s front of the queue stance.

The Leave campaigns are right; Trump has put us at the front of the queue. We are front of the queue to receive: a slow creeping privatisation of the NHS; deregulation for food and agricultural sectors to benefit US companies and an overall weaker economy because no UK-US trade deal can replace the benefits we gained from the single market. I think they left that part out when they designed that bus – convenient isn’t it?

Chris Hague
(Image courtesy of Toronto Star)

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