LONDRES: Britain’s main opposition Labour party on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of plotting a “toxic” deal with Donald Trump to allow US pharmaceutical companies access to the state health service.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held up what he said were 451 pages of previously secret documents that proved Johnson was seeking to put the National Health Service (NHS) on the table in a post-Brexit trade deal.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec 12, with Johnson hoping to secure a majority to be able to push through his divorce deal to take the country out of the European Union.
The funding and running of the NHS is a recurring election topic.
Corbyn had previously obtained a redacted version of the document, which Johnson said was “an absolute invention”.
But the Labour leader said the unredacted version catalogued six meetings between US and UK officials since 2017, detailing “what they (the Conservatives) don’t want you to know”.
“The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal,” he told reporters in central London.
The sale of the NHS was the government’s “secret agenda”, he added, warning the coming election was “a fight for the survival of the National Health Service as a public service”.
“It’s already being talked about in secret that could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service,” he added.
“Megacorporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.”
Talks were at “an advanced stage” and could see an increase in the cost of generic drugs, he said.
NHS was set up in 1948 under a Labour government, promising free healthcare for all “from cradle to the grave”.
Labour has historically been its staunchest defenders and repeatedly warned the free-market Conservatives have an agenda to introduce privatisation which would end free healthcare.
“Labour will not let this rest because unlike the Conservatives, we’re not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers,” said Corbyn.
“We’re on the side of the nurse, the doctor, the patient and the people. And we will never sell out our National Health Service.”