Unite urges MPs to back crucial vote to protect UK’s s...

Unite urges MPs to back crucial vote to protect UK’s sovereignty over NHS

19 May 2016

Unite is urging MPs from across the political divide to back an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for the NHS to be carved out of the EU-US trade deal called TTIP.

Politicians across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already signed a historic pledge to call on David Cameron to protect our NHS from being irreversibly sold to US private healthcare companies through the EU trade deal (see notes to editors).

Unite is urging MPs to listen to their constituents, tens of thousands up and down the country have been protesting about the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP.

Other countries have exempted key areas from the deal. David Cameron has not done this for the NHS, despite legal advice from a top QC that shows that TTIP poses a real and serious risk to the NHS.

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “Legal advice from a top QC shows that the NHS is at ‘serious risk’ from TTIP.  This threat has become a real issue in the EU referendum debate.

“The amendment gives MPs a unique opportunity to neutralise the NHS as an EU referendum issue and to protect our health service from irreversible privatisation. This is a chance that the UK cannot afford to miss. Once TTIP  is signed the UK will be locked into the deal for two decades. The UK will lose its sovereignty to make important decisions on health and you can say goodbye to the NHS as we know it.

“The leaders of the main political parties across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already signed an historic pledge calling on David Cameron to protect the NHS from TTIP. The people of this country do not believe it is right for the NHS to be part of this  trade deal.” 

TTIP is being negotiated behind closed doors between the EU and the United States. It’s the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make the sell-off of the NHS irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers. TTIP could give US multinationals, or any firm with American investors, new rights to sue the UK government if it ever tried to take privatised health services back into public hands.

The refusal by the Tories to exempt our NHS from the American trade deal flies in the face of legal advice. This confirms that there are clear dangers arising from TTIP that could impact the NHS, unless political leaders are ready to use the veto to deliver a robust carve-out.

The UK is able to exempt certain areas from the American trade deal but so far the Government is refusing to do this for the NHS, while other countries like France are using exemptions.

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Text of the pledge signed (a pdf graphic of the signatures is available on request)
We the undersigned believe that the provision of public healthcare by the NHS is much too important to be put at risk by the EU-US trade agreement, known as TTIP. In particular:
TTIP must not restrict the scope for decisions by any level of government, public authority or NHS organisation relating to public healthcare;
TTIP must not give current or future US investors new rights that they could use to sue any level of government, public authority or NHS organisation because of their policies or actions relating to public healthcare.
The party leaders who have signed below agree to use the veto to protect the NHS from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) unless the NHS is fully and clearly exempted from the agreement.
Northern Ireland: DUP, Peter Robinson; Sinn Fein, Martin McGuiness; SDLP, Alistair McDonnell; UUP, Mike Nesbitt; Alliance Party, David Ford; 2i, Basil McCrea; UKIP, David McNarry; Green Party, Steven Agnew.
Scotland: SNP, Nicola Sturgeon; Labour, Kezia Dugdale; Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie.
Wales: Labour, Carwyn Jones; Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.
United Kingdom: Labour, Jeremy Corbyn; Green Party, Natalie Bennett; Respect Party, George Galloway, NHA, Clive Peedell