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Trump insists US wants ‘nothing to do with’ NHS in post-Brexit trade talks

UK News | Published:

The US president described Boris Johnson as ‘very capable’ and said he would be meeting the Prime Minister during the course of his visit to the UK.

Nato Leaders Meeting

Donald Trump has insisted America wants “nothing to do with” the NHS amid claims that the health service could be used as a bargaining chip in post-Brexit trade talks.

The US president, speaking in London at the start of the Nato summit, claimed he would “stay out” of the General Election campaign because he does not want to “complicate it”.

But Mr Trump went on to describe Boris Johnson as “very capable” and said he would be meeting the Prime Minister during the course of his visit to the UK.

In a breakfast meeting with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the US ambassador’s residence in London, Mr Trump was asked if the NHS should be on the table in trade talks.

He replied: “No, not at all, I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.”

The president added: “I don’t even know where that rumour started. We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter, we want nothing to do with it.”

Mr Trump first sparked fears over his nation’s interest in the health service earlier this year when he said: “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table – so NHS or anything else, a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table, absolutely.”

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But he later performed a U-turn amid a public outcry, to say that he does not see it as being “part of trade”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn published a letter to Mr Trump on Monday night in which he asked for “reassurances” that US negotiators would not look to push up UK medicine prices by seeking access to the NHS for major American pharmaceutical companies.

His party has repeatedly claimed that the health service is “on the table” in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

The Trumps arrive
Mr Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Stansted Airport (Joe Giddens/PA)

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Mr Trump said he could “work with anybody” when asked whether he could work with Mr Corbyn as prime minister, though earlier said he thought Mr Johnson would do a “good job”.

The PM, on a campaign visit to the South West, said he was meeting all Nato leaders when asked whether he would be holding talks with Mr Trump.

Mr Johnson also said he could “categorically rule out” that “any part of the NHS will be on the table in any trade negotiations”, adding that it included pharmaceuticals.

“This is pure Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle stuff,” he said.

Leaders including Mr Trump and Mr Corbyn will gather for a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening.

The president’s intervention came as Labour faced questions over whether Russian disinformation was behind the party’s 451-page unredacted report which revealed the details of UK-US talks regarding a future trade deal between the two countries.

Mr Corbyn twice declined to defend the provenance of the documents on the talks after parallels were drawn with the disclosure and a Russian misinformation campaign, saying it was “nonsense” to suggest they may have arrived via Russian hackers.

Later, on ITV’s This Morning, Mr Corbyn said: “I held the dossier up because it had been released, and I’ve seen it, and at no stage until today when this new conspiracy theory arose has anyone challenged the correctness of that document, the veracity of that document.”

Mr Corbyn added: “If the document is not accurate, then why is it, it’s been out there all this time, no minister has claimed it’s inaccurate.

“No Government has, and in reality the minutes are there of meetings which involved Liam Fox in the early stages and officials later on.

“And Donald Trump himself said everything is on the table, including our National Health Service.”

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Chuka Umunna also said Mr Trump has “repeatedly made clear” that everything, including the NHS, is on the table in future negotiations.

“Like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump is hardly known for his honesty. Voters will rightly take these comments with a lorry load of salt,” Mr Umunna said.

The Labour leader has also dismissed the PM’s stinging criticism of his security record in which he accused Mr Corbyn of siding with “our enemies”.

In an interview with the Sun, Tory leader Mr Johnson said the UK’s closest allies were “very anxious” about Mr Corbyn being elected to Number 10 and accused him of being “naive” over the terror risk Britain faces.

“Every time he has the chance, he sides with our enemies,” he said.

“A lot of our allies, particularly the Five Eyes, are very anxious about any future collaboration. It is absolutely not a Tory scare story. They have said precisely this.”

General Election 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outside Birkbeck/SOAS University of London during a campaign event on Tuesday morning (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Asked about the PM’s allegations, the Labour leader said: “Not for the first time, Boris Johnson is talking complete nonsense.

“I want all of our people to be safe and secure; that means we have to ensure there is no danger of terrorist threat, that means we will properly fund and have a police force that’s effective across the whole country.

“You don’t allow people to live in desperate poverty in our country. It’s about security of people at home as well as any issues further abroad.”

Mr Corbyn also said he would tell Mr Trump, if they meet at Buckingham Palace during the Nato reception, that he does not want US companies running the NHS.

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