Jeremy Corbyn has presented hundreds of pages of unredacted government documents that he says prove the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) “is on the table and will be up for sale,” as part of US trade talks.
The Labour leader held up the documents during a speech in Westminster, which he said covered six rounds of talks in both Washington and London from July 2017 up until “just a few months ago.”
“We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit,” Corbyn said.
He said said this deal “could lead to runaway privatization of our health service.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously denied that the NHS would be part of any US-UK trade negotiations and that his government would continue to fund it.
On November 19, speaking in a televised head-to-head debate with Corbyn he said: “There are no circumstance whatever in which this government or any Conservative government will put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiation. Our NHS will never be for sale.”
And on Wednesday, Johnson repeated on Twitter: “Our NHS will not be on the table for any trade negotiations. We’re protecting and strengthening our NHS with more investment and an Australian style, points-based immigration system.”
Later, he responded again to Corbyn’s claim from Cornwall, southwest England saying that the Conservatives were “absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatization.”
“The NHS is not on the table in anyway. The NHS is in no way on the table, ” he added.
However, Corbyn said the uncensored documents – totaling 451 pages – are evidence of the Prime Minister’s “secret agenda” and “leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.”
“Now we know the truth when Johnson says ‘Get Brexit Done,’ it’s a fraud on the British people.”
NHS workers – including some in uniform and even one wearing a stethoscope – handed out the unredacted documents to journalists in the room.
Corbyn said the documents prove that “this election is now a fight for the survival of our National Health Service.”
“Labour will never, ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody,” the opposition Labour leader told the crowd at the press conference. “We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.”
Corbyn added that the documents also show that negotiations were ongoing to open the NHS up to American pharmaceutical companies – potentially leading to a rise in UK drug prices.
“Lives will be put at risk as a result of this,” he added.
The Labour leader urged Johnson to “come clean on what the Conservatives’ sell-out plan for our NHS is.”
CNN’s Martin Goillandeau and Sarah Dean contributed reporting.