WATCH: Donald Trump faces backlash after claiming NHS ‘on the table’ in any future UK-US trade deal

Posted On: 
4th June 2019

Donald Trump has insisted that the National Health Service must be "on the table" in negotiations over a future UK-US trade agreement.

President Trump and Theresa May addressing the press in central London
Credit: 
PA Images

The US president's remarks reignited a furious row which began when Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, claimed that the "the entire economy" should be up for discussion in any post-Brexit talks.

That led to MPs from across the political spectrum - including Health Secretary Matt Hancock - insisting that the NHS must remain off-limits.

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But speaking at a press conference alongside Theresa May on the second day of his state visit to the UK, the president said: “I think everything with the trade deal is on the table. When you’re dealing in trade everything’s on the table, so NHS or anything else or a lot more than that but everything will be on the table, absolutely."

In an immediate attempt to play down his remarks, Mrs May added: “But the point about making trade deals is of course that those sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future...”

Mr Hancock, who is vying to be the next Tory leader, also attempted to limit the political damage by tweeting: "Dear Mr President. The NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks - and never will be. Not on my watch."

But Jeremy Corbyn said President Trump's remarks proved that that NHS was not safe in the Tories' hands.

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "US corporations taking over our NHS is a nightmare scenario. The Tories appear happy to give Trump what he wants, and some want to offer up our NHS to get the no-deal Brexit they are campaigning for.

"If our NHS is taken over by US corporations, it will undermine it as a free, universal public service. The NHS is only safe in Labour hands."

Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Ed Davey urged Tory MPs running to replace Mrs May to rule out the NHS being up for negotiation.

He said: "Trump stands up next to a weakened Prime Minister on her way out of office and repeats the demands of his ambassador, that our precious NHS be up for negotiation in US trade deal talks.

"With friends like this, who needs enemies? Those who called for Brexit on the basis it would mean better trade deals for the UK should hang their heads in shame."