Breakdown Of Leaked Documents Betray Fact That NHS Is Well And Truly 'On The Table'
Despite Trump's Denial
Global Justice campaign has provided a detailed breakdown and explanation of the Dept of International Trade documents of their UK-US Trade & Investment Working Group, that were leaked last week, of the secret UK/US trade deal talks that have been going on since 2016. That same year, officials from the department for international trade had “positive bilaterals” [meetings] and met with PhRma, the US pharmaceutical lobbing group, to discuss priorities for a future trade deal.
Previously, Unionsafety published details of the intentions of the US Trade Deal negotiators that was published in February this year which makes clear that ALL aspects of trade with the UK are up for discussion and that ALL UK markets are intended to be accessed by the US in any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that may come out of the negotiations.
The then Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, by starting talks with the US immediately following the EU Referendum results; admitted that an FTA with the US will take some years to negotiate. Two years on, and the secret talks and denials of the NHS being on the table, have now become available to the public via the leaked documents which despite the denials of President Trump and of Boris Johnson, show the true intent of the from the UK's Tory Government negotiators and that of the USA to include in any FTS, access to the NHS and to ensure patent timelines are increased and therefore the high cost of medicines.
This must also be seen in the context of numerous statements by Tory MPs and ministers since 2012 advocating that the NHS should be run by private healthcare companies and the Health and Social Care ACt 2012, without which the current £15 billion of NHS healthcare service contract awards to private healthcare companies, including some from the US; would not be possible.
A 'free market' book 'Britannia Unchained' co-authored in 2012 by five Conservative MPs: Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss, further provides evidence of the intent behind Brexit and any FTA with the USA. The current (2020) International Trade Secretary is Liz Truss, whio now has the ability to implement all that was in this book! Indeed, Borids Johnson who appointed her, often quotes from this book; albeit seruptisciously!
It argued that Thatcher was 'too left-wing' and that british workers were the laziest in the world and that everything should be open to the 'free market' and worker's rights and social protections should be abandoned altogether.
Of course that included the NHS, broadcasting, policing, transport and health.
This is how Raab and his co-authors described their plans for the NHS in a 2011 booklet entitled: 'After the Coalition'
"The current monolith should be broken up. Hospitals should be given their independence, extending the Foundation Hospital model – initially controversial but now almost universally accepted. New non-profit and private operators should be allowed into the service, and indeed should compete on price."
Yesterday (3rd Dec) Tory minister Dominic Raab admitted the US will be able to ramp up the cost of drugs bought by the NHS after Brexit, as argued for in his 2012 book called 'Britannia Unchained' which advocated that the NHS should be part of the 'free market'.
He also claimed again the NHS would not be “on the table for negotiations” in the US-UK trade deal Boris Johnson is desperate to secure after leaving the EU, and that the government would “walk away” rather than sign up to an agreement that put the health service at risk.
However, given his and other Tory minister co-authors stance on the NHS, many feel he cannot be believed and that once the Tories get back in power, anything and everything, the US wants in order to get a desperately needed Trade Deal with the US; will be granted. The USA working culture with much less regulation on safety, the environment and especially worker's rights, fits perfectly into the mould that the Tories want for the UK.
What is more telling too, is the fact that Raab and his co-authors were all members of the hard-right Free Enterprise Group. This group of Tory MPs advocated for the policies of 'Britannia Unchained', and current health secretary Matt Hancock was also a member.
But even prior to that, there was the 1988 John Redwood and Oliver Letwin policy paper, 'The Biggest Enterprise' on the NHS which was the forerunner to the idea of NHS Foundation Hospital Trusts and the de-centralisation of financial controls which was necessary in order to privatise the health service via the 2012 Act.
Boris Johnson has chosen to promote these 'Britannia Unchained', Tories to the most senior positions in his cabinet. And that tells us exactly what we can expect if UK voters elect this government on 12 December.
Below is part of the Global Justice 9 Section breakdown of the leaked Department of International Trade (DIT) documents which is available from the unionsafety E-Library by clicking on the relevant pic below, and using 'Brexit' search category.
The original Department of International Trade leaked documents are also available by clicking on the relevant pic and using the search word 'leaked'.
Trump lies in order to help a Tory victory on 12th December
1) This is a trade deal on Trump’s terms - including on Brexit
What the documents say
“USTR [US Trade Representative] were also clear that the UK-EU situation would be determinative: there would be all to play for in a No Deal situation but UK commitment to the Customs Union and Single Market would make a UK-U.S. FTA a non-starter.” 6th working group, p2 (10 July 2019)
“Significant US interest in the degree of regulatory flexibility the UK currently has, and will be seeking in future, from our relationship with the EU.” 1st working group, p10 (24-25 July 2017)
The US is using these trade talks to pressure the UK government into as hard a Brexit as possible. They want the UK to adopt US standards and regulations so that it is easier for US corporations to move into the UK market, and for that they need the UK to break with EU standards. The papers show the US threatening that the trade deal will be off if the UK agrees a Brexit deal that keeps it aligned with the EU.
From the very first meeting, the papers show US representatives speaking dismissively of any reason for the UK to “take on all the EU’s ‘dirty laundry’”. 1st working group, p22
In a later meeting, US officials repeatedly expressed concern at Theresa May’s ‘Chequers’ proposal, calling it a “worst case scenario” for food standards in particular because it would involve keeping the UK’s existing standards. In the most recent meeting, the US is again hammering home the same message. 4th working group, p26
This echoes comments that Trump has made, and confirms this was not an off-hand comment but a deliberate, long term tactic on the part of the US administration. Eleni Corea, “Trump: Brexit deal ‘precludes’ US-UK trade agreement”, Politico 31 October 2019
We have also seen the UK comply with this. One of the biggest changes Boris Johnson made to May’s Brexit proposal was to remove the long-term linking of British and European standards.
“UK welfare and GDP increased less under the hard Brexit scenario.” 5th working group, p99 (2 November 2018)What it means
The US’s initial economic modeling suggests that a hard Brexit scenario would be good for the US but not for Britain.What the documents say
“Clear that for the US the priority is securing guaranteed market access for US firms into the UK market and ensuring the services and investment rules that protect this access are as strong as possible, including capturing any future liberalisation. While valuable this means it will be a steep ask to secure any new economically meaningful access to the US on priority UK services asks.” 3rd working group, p48 (21-22 March 2018)
“benefits tend to filter through to company profit margins rather than a full pass-through rate to consumers” 4th working group, p79 (10-11 July 2018)
The papers question whether there will be any value to a trade deal at all, for the UK or for the public generally.What the documents say
“being able to point to advanced negotiations with the UK was viewed as having political advantages for the President going in to the 2020 elections.” 6th working group, p1 (10-11 July 2019)What it means
The US even makes clear the opportunities a US-UK trade deal would present for Donald Trump’s re-election.Additional points
Beyond the issue of Brexit, the US dominates the talks in these papers at every level. They dictate what should be discussed, what they want included in a trade deal, how the deal should be done, and explain the meaning of terminology to their UK counterparts. The power imbalance is clear. The talks are clearly reinforcing US interests and US ways of doing trade deals.
2) Medicine prices for the NHS are already on the table
What the documents say
“We have reached a point (for Patents in Pharmaceuticals/Health) where beyond specific policy details in niche areas, we are awaiting the clearance to negotiate and exchange text to really take significant further steps.”
4th working group, p132; (10-11 July 2018)
Medicine prices for the NHS have been on the table throughout these talks and are actually one of the most fully developed issues.
From the second meeting onward, the topic of pharmaceutical patents has been a major item on the agenda, with a particularly in depth look at the issue in the fourth working group. The two sides have effectively concluded all the preliminary negotiations they need on this subject and it is noted that they are ready to begin agreeing text for the final deal.
What is being proposed is the extension of monopolies for big drug companies, particularly on new ‘biologic’ medicines - an advanced class of effective drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases and cancers. This could massively increase the cost of medicines for the NHS. The NHS spent £18.9bn this past year on medicines and the NHS is increasingly having to reject or ration medicines because of spiralling prices.
NHS, Prescribing Costs in Hospitals and the Community 2018 - 2019, 14 Nov 2019
“The US said there is a lot of conversation on drug prices and looking at what other countries pay and this is causing angst. There are worries that the US is not getting a good deal in pharmaceutical industries.”
2nd working group, p48 (13-14 November 2017)
The papers also refer obliquely to US concerns that the NHS currently does not pay, in its view, enough for medicines. At present the NHS’s bulk purchasing power allows it to negotiate prices, while the regulator, NICE, assesses whether medicines are effective enough to justify their price. Trump considers this to be ‘freeloading’ and has asked trade negotiators to do something about it.
B Jopson, D. Crow, “Trump blames ‘freeloading’ foreign countries for high drug prices”. Financial Times, 11 May 2018
What the documents say
“The IP session was followed by a series of positive bilateral stakeholder meetings with the American Creative, Technology, and Innovative Organisations Network (ACTION) for Trade, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM). DIT and IPO met with representatives from each organisation to discuss USMCA and priorities for each stakeholder for future trade agreements.”
5th working group, pp43-44 (2-7 November 2018
The trade talks were combined with lobby meetings from pharmaceutical industry bodies and others on at least one occasion.
3) The British government has discussed how to 'sell' chlorinated chicken to a skeptical public
What the documents say
“The US repeatedly emphasised their view that the UK should seek regulatory autonomy following EU Exit to allow us to evaluate methods/products independently.” 2nd working group, p41 (13-14 November 2017)
“Chequers and the UK’s decision to attempt to align with the EU on Agri-food and SPS is the “worst-case scenario” for a UK-US FTA.” 4th working group, p26 (10-11 July 2018)
The US wants radical changes to the UK’s food system. The US is deeply hostile to a Brexit proposal that would keep the UK in a common rulebook with the EU or a level playing field on standards, precisely because that would limit the ability of the US to change UK food standards.What the documents say
“The US understood that the UK used PRTs [pathogen reduction treatments, such as chlorine] until 2003, and wondered if there would be an interest in bringing them back post-EU Exit.” 2nd working group, p42 (13-14 November 2017)
“US to share their public lines on chlorine-washed chicken to help inform the media narrative around the issue.”
2nd working group, p43 (13-14 November 2017)
Chlorinated chicken has been discussed, and the US offered to help the UK government ‘sell’ it to the British public.What the documents say
“The FDA’s typical approach is:
a) Risk based
b) Flexible – “least burdensome”
c) Fee supported – a lot of activity depends upon industry fees. Industry gives the FDA a direction every 5 years on how it should spend the money.
d) Transparency – everything should be open to notice and comment.
e) Voluntary use of standards – companies are welcome to demonstrate their products are safe and effective in other ways.
f) Preference for standards and guidance over regulations.” 3rd working group, p68 (21-22 March 2018)
The US are clear that they want to change the UK’s precautionary approach to food regulation - in which products need to be proved safe before going on the market. Instead they want the UK to move to the US system where things are assumed to be safe until damage or harm is proved. They also have a clear preference for voluntary standards, created by big business, rather than government regulation. Such a model in the US has allowed the flourishing of industrial farming, with animals pumped with steroids, hormones and antibiotics and farmed in atrocious conditions.What the documents say
“The US view the introduction of warning labels as harmful rather than as a step to public health.”
2nd working group, p41 (13-14 November 2017)
“Whilst they follow the guidance set by WHO, they are concerned that labelling food with high sugar content (as has been done with tobacco) is not particularly useful in changing consumer behaviour.” 2nd working group, p43 (13-14 November 2017)
Public health measures to tackle the obesity crisis through improved labelling could be at risk, as is labelling to inform the public of the presence of genetically modified organisms.
The complete briefing document can be downloaded from the Unionsafety E-Library and contains a total of 9 sections and you are urged to read it and share with work colleagues and friends and family.
Source: Global Justice / Unionsafety / Channel 4 News / The Independent / The Canary
Editor's Note: This report was first published in DEcember 2019 and has been updated and re-published given the current situation of UK/US Trade Talks being held in secret by Liz Truss, one of the authors of the book 'After The Coalition' as mentioned above.