Boris Johnson tells Donald Trump NHS 'not for sale' in any post-Brexit trade deal
Boris Johnson has insisted the National Health Service is "not for sale" in any post-Brexit trade deal Britain strikes with Donald Trump.
Making his House of Commons debut as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson told MPs that "under no circumstances" would NHS contracts be opened up to American firms as he pursues a trade tie-up with the US President.
In a wide-ranging statement, Mr Johnson vowed that his new-look government - which he has filled with Brexiteers and his closest supporters - would create a "broader and bolder" country in the years ahead.
He vowed to hand Whitehall departments "all necessary funding" to "turbo-charge" preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
And he promised a new government review would herald a "radical rewriting" of the immigration system.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the new PM of having "hastily thrown together a hard right Cabinet" as he declared: "No one underestimates this country, but the country is deeply worried that the new Prime Minister overestimates himself."
And he urged Mr Johnson to rule out allowing access to the NHS for US firms to form "part of any trade deal with President Trump".
Mr Corbyn said: "People fear that far from wanting to 'take back control' the new Prime Minister would effectively make us a vassal state to Trump’s America."
But Mr Johnson shot back: "Under no circumstances would we agree to any deal, any free trade deal that put the NHS on the table.It is not for sale.
"And I would remind the Rt Hon Gentleman that for 44 years of its 71 years of glorious existence, it is the NHS that has benefited from Conservative policies and Conservative government.
"Because we understand that unless you support wealth creation, unless you believe in British business and British enterprise and British industry you will not have the funds. Unless you have a strong economy, you will not be able to pay for a fantastic NHS."
It has been reported that Mr Johnson will seek a round of meetings with President Trump before Britain leaves the EU in a bid to tee-up a post-Brexit deal.
Setting out his Brexit stall to loud cheers from the Tory benches, Mr Johnson said the UK could become "the greatest and most prosperous economy in Europe" by 2050 as he vowed to "restore trust in our democracy" by ensuring Britan leaves the EU on 31 October with or without a deal.
In a direct message to EU leaders, Mr Johnson said the deal thrashed out by Theresa May had been "three times rejected by this House" and vowed to ditch its backstop arrangement aimed at avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.
"No country that values its independence and indeed its self-respect could agree to a Treaty which signed away our economic independence and self-government as this backstop does," he said.
"A time limit is not enough. If an agreement is to be reached it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop."
The new PM revealed that he had ordered Cabinet Office minister Michae4l Gove to make no-deal planning "his top priority", and made clear his new Chancellor Sajid Javid would make "all necessary funding" available for that planning.
"I will also ensure that preparing for leaving the EU without an agreement under Article 50 is not just about seeking to mitigate the challenges but also about grasping the opportunities," he said.
"This is not just about technical preparations, vital though they are. It is about having a clear economic strategy for the UK in all scenarios, something which the Conservative Party has always led the way, and it’s about producing policies which will boost the competitiveness and the productivity of our economy when we are free of the EU regulations."
'BRIGHTEST AND BEST'
The Tory leader also unveiled plans for a wide-ranging review of the UK immigration system, in a move he said would ensure Britain can "attract the brightest and best talent from around the world".
"For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points based system," he said.
"And today I will actually deliver on those promises - I will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of that system as the first step in a radical rewriting of our immigration system. I am convinced that we can produce a system that the British public can have confidence in."
But Mr Johnson's Commons debut as PM drew an angry backlash from opposition parties.
Taking aim at the new Conservative leader, Mr Corbyn said: "Our country does not need arm-waving bluster but competence, seriousness and, after a decade of division policies for the few, to focus on the interests of the many."
Meanwhile Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson accused Mr Johnson - who pledged "absolute certainty of the right to live and remain" for EU citizens - of being "all talk and no trousers" on the issue.
“Three million EU citizens are our family, our friends, our neighbours, our carers, yet for three years they have been made to feel unwelcome in our country," she warned.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “I should welcome the Prime Minister to his place as the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
“It is often said that the Prime Minister lives in a parallel universe well my goodness that’s been proven beyond any reasonable doubt this morning.
"In fact it looked as if he was about to launch himself into outer space."