Trump Talks Trade Deal with the UK: NHS Must be on the Table

Trump Talks Trade Deal with the UK: NHS Must be on the Table

Trump Talks Trade with the UK 

NHS must be on the table

On the second day of Trump’s visit in the UK, during which he has been hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May, the US president exhibited his ambitions for a “phenomenal” post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. He claimed that transatlantic trade between the two countries could be “two and even three times what we’re doing now” after Brexit, but made it clear that it would involve painful choices for Britain.

Trump appraised the “special relationship” between the two nations. “It’s the greatest alliance the world has ever known,” he told reporters at Britain’s Foreign Office, as the western alliance prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the landings on D-Day on Thursday.

When talking about the trade deal, the President said Britain’s public health sector should be on the table in future trade talks between the two countries after Brexit; May responded to some areas of the UK economy might be off-limits. “Everything will be on the table; the NHS, everything,” Mr Trump said at a joint conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who also stressed: “The point about making trade deals, of course, is that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future.”

The National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded national healthcare system for many Britons. Created after World War II, it provides a wide range of free services ranging from routine consultations to life-saving operations. In 2017 the US took up 18 percent of UK exports and 11 percent of its imports, while the EU accounted for 45 percent and 53 percent respectively.

Trump demanded plenty of concessions including the NHS be opened up to more American companies, which means the NHS has to pay higher prices for drugs made by American firms. The NHS currently pays significantly less for medicines from American companies than US healthcare purchasers. On top of that, the UK should accept US food products such as hormone-treated beef and chlorine-dipped chicken, both of which are currently banned under EU rules. Mrs May replied the UK would not accept any lowering of food or environmental standards after Brexit.

British Health Minister Matt Hancock, a contender to replace May as Prime Minister, struck back Trump’s proposal on Twitter: “Dear Mr President. The NHS isn’t on the table in trade talks and never will be. Not on my watch.” Other Tory leadership contenders including foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, the front-runner Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove also stated that they would not allow to include the NHS in transatlantic trade talks.

During the most time of the meeting, Trump let pass controversial topics such as the Huawei ban and the Iran tension while talked over sensitive issues such as her possible succession. Trump also mentioned Johnson, the former London mayor, who has said that the United Kingdom should leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal, and Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign minister who has warned against leaving without a deal.

The UK’ position on Huawei

Some friction between the allies has been Britain’s preliminary decision to allow Huawei a restricted role in building parts of its 5G network. Trump has blocked use of Huawei’s 5G equipment in the US and is pressing allies to do likewise. The White House has advised allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology and equipment for the fears it could allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data through potential hidden back-doors and warned it could impact on intelligence-sharing. But the UK National Security Council (Mrs May is the chair) agreed in April to let Huawei join parts of Britain’s 5G mobile phone networks roll-out.

However, Trump said there should be “no problem” with an intelligence sharing between the US and the UK based on his conversations with May, raising the prospect of a possible climb-down on the safety issues in the intelligence sharing between US and UK. Trump said the two governments are going to have an arrangement on Huawei without any limitations.

“Negative” Jeremy Corbyn

Trump said he had rejected the request from Jeremy Corbyn, the “negative” Labour leader, who pledged to strongly oppose US companies take over the NHS. Trump described him as “somewhat of a negative force”. Jeremy Corbyn is a socialist, who boycotted the banquet held in the President’s honour. During his speech, the politician attracted many protesters to central London on Tuesday. When questioned on this issue, President Trump denied seeing any protests and accused that “a lot of it is fake news.”

By Steven Gao

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