Theresa May backs ministers who told Donald Trump NHS 'not for sale' in post-Brexit trade talks

Posted On: 
3rd June 2019

Theresa May has thrown her support behind ministers who told President Trump the NHS was 'not for sale' in a post-Brexit trade deal.

Talks on trade are expected to go ahead as President Trump visits the UK

As US President Donald Trump begins his three-day state visit to the UK, the Prime Minister has backed cabinet colleagues in rejecting controversial comments made by the US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson.

Asked whether American firms would be getting a "slice" of the NHS post-Brexit, Mr Johnson told the BBC on Sunday: "I think probably the entire economy would, in a trade deal all things that are traded would be on the table."

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But Health Secretary Matt Hancock was quick to fire back that the “NHS is not for sale”, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt snubbed the prospect of US businesses having access to NHS contracts in any post-Brexit trade deal.

Mrs May’s spokesman said: “Both the Health Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have set out that that is not the case in relation to the NHS.”

The spokesman also dismissed suggestions that the UK will be forced to accept chlorinated chicken and hormone-pumped beef in order to do a deal.

He added: “We will not be lowering our environmental standards.”

However, Number 10 insisted Mrs May and President Trump will be talking trade during his UK visit.

He said: "They have discussed their shared desire to reach a trade deal regularly in meetings they have held and I would expect it to come up again."

Ahead of the visit, President Trump signalled the trip would be "very important" and that there was an opportunity for "a very big trade deal" after the UK splits from the European bloc.

"There’s a lot going on in the UK. And I’m sure it’s going to work out very well for them," Mr Trump said.

"As you know, they want to do trade with the United States, and I think there’s an opportunity for a very big trade deal at some point in the near future. And we’ll see how that works out."

President Trump’s visit has already sparked controversy after he took to Twitter just minutes after touching down in the UK to brand London mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser”.

The commander-in-chief will be dining at Buckingham Palace for a state banquet on Monday night, before meeting Theresa May for talks on Tuesday.