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Tories and Liberal Democrats isolated over TTIP trade deal

Tories and Liberal Democrats isolated over TTIP trade deal

20 October 2014

Every party representing England, Scotland and Wales in the European Parliament opposes the inclusion of the NHS in the EU-US trade deal called TTIP including Labour, Ukip, the Green party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

The 70 MEPs were asked about their stance on the trade deal. Only two out of 19 Tory MEPs bothered to respond to questions about the inclusion of the NHS in the trade agreement, once again illustrating the party’s failure to take people’s concerns about the NHS seriously.

MEPs were asked to clarify if they agreed that the NHS should be fully and clearly exempted from TTIP. One Tory MEP Ashley Fox mistakenly believed that the NHS was not included in TTIP despite his own government recently clarifying that the NHS fell into the scope of the agreement.

In a move likely to anger her constituents the Liberal Democrat’s lone MEP for the South East, Catherine Bearder, supported the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP.

The deal, known as TTIP, is being negotiated behind the closed doors of the European Commission, between EU bureaucrats and delegates from the United States.

It is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make privatisation of the NHS irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers. Secret courts would grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.

A poll, carried out by Survation, questioned over 2,600 voters across 13 marginal Conservative-held seats. Respondents were asked if health should be excluded from the deal and if David Cameron should use Britain’s veto.

Across all constituencies 68 per cent said they opposed the inclusion of the NHS as part of the deal. Opposition was highest from those planning on voting for Labour or UKIP, 78 per cent and 77 per cent respectively, and just 23 per cent of Conservative voters supported inclusion.’

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Political parties from across the political spectrum oppose the inclusion of the NHS in this trade deal.

“The Tories and the Liberal Democrats are isolated and on the wrong side of public opinion. They believe that allowing US corporations to override Britain’s sovereignty over the NHS is more important than the  concerns of the British people.

"Trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has made it clear that the door is open for the UK government to exempt the NHS. Cameron must veto the NHS before our local services are left to the mercy of Wall Street.

“Our country is united against this trade deal and the disastrous impact it will have on our health. The government stands alone - it is time for David Cameron to wake up, stand up for Britain and exempt health from TTIP.”

ENDS

For further information contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.