Johnson and Simmonds ‘fail to protect our NHS’ in Trade Bill Vote
On Monday 20th July, Conservative MPs, including David Simmonds and Boris Johnson, voted against a Labour amendment to the Government's Trade Bill which would have protected the NHS, in law, from foreign influence. They also voted against an ammendment from a Conservative backbencher which would have allowed for parliamentary scrutiny of all post Brexit trade agreements.
Contrary to the promise Johnson made during the 2019 General election, repeated again on Monday night, these votes put the NHS firmly ‘on the table’ for a trade deal with the USA: with no ability for parliament to stop it. In response to parliament's decision, Cat Hobbs, director of the Campaign organisation We Own It, tweeted: ‘Not only did MPs fail to protect our NHS, they didn't even vote to give *themselves* the powers to 'take back control'’
In a press release, Uxbridge and South Ruislip Labour also expressed their disappointment at the outcome of the votes. They highlighted Labour's amendment 'would have prevented by law any trade deals that threaten our free and publicly-funded NHS......[the rejection of the amendment] effectively means that our NHS is now on the table in any post-Brexit trade deals, including those made with Donald Trump, which is deeply concerning'.
What does this mean in practice? Without the protections outlined in the amendments, sensitive NHS data could be sold off to US private corporations. Further, despite claims from the Conservative trade minister to the contrary, the amount the NHS pays for drugs could skyrocket. This is all in addition to undermining treasured worker’s rights and environmental standards.
Despite the Trade bill passing parliament, it still must be agreed by the House of Lords. Currently, We Own It are running a campaign to encourage people to tell the Lords to amend the bill to give parliament a say over future trade deals and protect the NHS. The petition can be found here.