Trump warns NHS must be ‘on the table’ in post-Brexit trade talks

Donald Trump has insisted the NHS must be “on the table” in any trade talks with the United States after Britain leaves the EU.

Following talks with Theresa May in Downing Street on the second day of his state visit, the president held out the prospect of a “phenomenal” deal that could potentially triple the volume of trade between the two countries.

At the same time, he made clear that there could be no limit to the scope of their discussions.

“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table,” he said.

President Trump state visit to UK – Day Two
Theresa May welcoming US President Donald Trump to Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

“When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table – so NHS or anything else, a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table, absolutely.”

Mrs May appeared to be taken aback by his comments, retorting: “The point in making trade deals is of course that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future.”

Mr Trump’s remarks appeared to fly in the face of assurances by senior ministers including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who have insisted the NHS would never be opened up to US providers.

Following the press conference, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Dear Mr President. The NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks – and never will be. Not on my watch.”

Dear Mr President. The NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks – and never will be. Not on my watch.

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) June 4, 2019

The talks took place as Jeremy Corbyn addressed thousands of demonstrators protesting against Mr Trump’s visit.

The Labour leader condemned the president’s attacks on London mayor Sadiq Khan, and vowed to resist any moves to allow private US companies to take over “our precious, wonderful” NHS.

“We will not stand for that. We will fight with every last breath of our body to defend the principle of a healthcare system free at the point of need for everybody as a human right,” he said.

Mr Trump brushed off his remarks, saying he did “not know him, never met him, never spoke to him” and that he had turned down an offer to meet him.

“He wanted to meet today or tomorrow and I decided I would not do that. I think he is from where I come from somewhat of a negative force,” he said.

A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy is ready to engage with the president on a range of issues, including the climate emergency, threats to peace and the refugee crisis.”

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