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Trump echoes Johnson: NHS not part of US-UK trade deal

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
US president Donald Trump and Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson on 25 August. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump echoed the words of UK prime minister Boris Johnson by saying that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is not part of any potential trade deal between the two nations.

At a press conference in London on Tuesday, Trump said: “I have nothing to do with it, never even thought about it honestly – we have enough … Look, we are going to have a great healthcare system, we’re doing great heath care work, we’ve got things really running well.

“If you handed [the NHS] to us on a silver platter, we wouldn't want it. We want nothing to do with it.”

This comes just days after Johnson said “we are absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatisation, the NHS is not on the table in any way.”

The NHS has been in the spotlight over the last month, after the leader of Britain’s main opposition party Labour — Jeremy Corbyn — claimed he had "proof" the NHS was at risk under a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.

READ MORE: Labour claims NHS at risk of privatisation under US-UK trade deal

Corbyn said the 451-page dossier he has in his possession, undermines Johnson’s claims that the NHS would not be on the table when it came to trade negotiations with the US.

“The uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters,” Corbyn said in a speech. “Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.”

A Channel 4 investigation earlier this month found the redacted documents suggesting US and UK officials had already discussed drug pricing in initial talks over a future trade deal. Labour appears to have obtained unredacted copies.

Johnson said the claims were "nonsense" while the Conservative party manifesto said that neither the price paid for drugs nor NHS services will be "on the table."

Consistent concerns over the fate of the NHS

A member of NHS medical staff poses with unredacted documents related to post-Brexit UK-US Trade talks. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Britain’s NHS is fully funded by the taxpayer and allows anyone to gain services and medicine for little or no cost. 

However, concerns have grown over the fate of the NHS under a Conservative-led government, especially in light of post-Brexit trade deal with economic titans like the US.

Trump previously said: “When you’re dealing in trade everything is on the table – the NHS or anything else.”

Some of the concerns from stealth privatisation — from giving private companies a greater share of business and control within the system or monopoly over drugs.

New research has shown that under a mainly Conservative government since 2015, £15bn ($19.4bn) of NHS contracts have been handed to private companies — double of the total yearly value since the Tories took office. This is out of £24bn of outsourced contracts awarded since 2015 — equivalent to 61%.

Meanwhile, a report by the NHS Confederation warned that a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump could lead to patients paying billions more for medicine, if the health service is denied the change to use cheaper alternatives to more expensive branded drugs.