We Need Clarity Not Soundbites on the NHS and TTIP

With the European Union In/Out referendum due to take centre stage following Parliamentary elections in the UK outside England as well as Local ballots across Britain tomorrow, it is absolutely vital that our politicians provide clarity regarding the much vaunted Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Michael Bowsher QC is the Chair of the Bar EU Committee and he produced an independent inquiry into TTIP published in February 2016. The key points are:

 My inquiry shows that TTIP does pose a threat to future governments wishing to take
the NHS back into public hands.
 It shows that TTIP goes beyond UK and EU law as well as NHS contracts in the
threat it poses to the NHS.
 It shows that the ‘right to regulate’ is not worth the paper it is written on.
 the Government has to exempt the NHS in the main text, or an Annex II/II
reservation, if it wants to protect it properly.

Alan Johnson a former Health Secretary and MP for Hessle and West Hull tabled a Commons motion to protect the NHS. We asked local MP’s to sign it. Diana Johnson (Hull North) and Karl Turner (Hull East) responded. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) seemed uninterested at best and, to date we have heard nothing from Greg Knight (E. Yorkshire) or Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness). Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) decided that blocking us and a number of other local accounts from his Twitter feed took precedence over being accountable.

Nationally Labour’s ex Cabinet Minister Rachel Reeves said in what can only described as a fit of pique, “The TTIP issue is being manipulated by those who want us to leave Europe, many of them right-wingers with no love for the NHS, in order to try and persuade voters to back exit.” This is a particularly disappointing intervention as it suggests the public are too thick to differentiate one issue from the bigger picture and that anyone who disagrees is automatically “right wing”.

Today Cameron joined in at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The SNP’s Margaret Ferrier asked him to say “what protections the Government are seeking for the NHS and public services”.

Mr Cameron replied: “This is the reddest of red herrings, I have to say, the health service is completely protected under this agreement, as it is under other agreements.

“Look, there are all sorts of reasons people might be against free trade and wanting to see an expansion of trade and investment and jobs.

“I think people should be honest about it and say they don’t want to see this kind of thing happen rather than actually finding total red herrings to get in the way of what could add tens of billions of pounds to our economy and bring jobs and investment to our country.”

In other words, if you disagree with TTIP then you may as well go back to your cave and make fire with sticks.

If the PM has rock solid evidence that the NHS is safe let us see it! If he has sound, independent legal advice let us read it! 

For once in your life Dave, give us a straight answer!


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