In Brief

Corbyn tells Johnson to halt US talks until NHS is off table

Labour leader warns: ‘If we don’t say it’s not for sale, it’s for sale’

Jeremy Corbyn has told Boris Johnson to break off trade talks with Donald Trump until pharmaceuticals are excluded from negotiations.

Writing to the prime minister hours before Trump left the US for a visit to the UK, the Labour leader repeated his claim that the NHS has been on the table in the secret UK-US trade talks.

He also demanded that the UK should cancel future trade talks with Washington until the NHS is removed from discussions.

Corbyn insists Johnson should halt talks on a bilateral trade deal until Trump excludes any reference to pharmaceuticals and accept the role of the regulator – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in setting drugs prices.

The Labour leader wrote: “The threat to the NHS from a future post-Brexit US-UK trade agreement, given the statements made by both US and British officials and politicians, is of profound concern to the British public.”

He told Johnson that his “proposed trade deal with the US clearly threatens to drive up the cost at which our NHS buys drugs, which could drain £500 million a week from our health service” and describes Johnson’s claim that NHS medicines procurement is ‘not on the table’ in UK-US trade talks as “false”.

Arguing that “with polling day fast approaching, full transparency about the threat to the future of our NHS is vital,” he concluded: “If we don’t say it’s not for sale, it’s for sale.”

The letter comes the day after Corbyn told Johnson to stop being the “world’s leading sycophant” towards Trump. In a major foreign policy speech, the Labour leader said: “It is time for Britain to stop being tied to Donald Trump’s coat-tails.”

The Tories have seemingly acknowledged that their relations with Trump are a potential issue. Johnson has urged the US president not to get involved in the election, fearing that words of approval from the divisive president could derail the Conservative Party’s campaign.

“What we don’t do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don’t do traditionally, is get involved in each other’s election campaigns,” Johnson, told LBC last week.

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