TTIP campaigners applaud Tory Eurosceptics for joining Jeremy Corbyn in opposing trade deal

'The NHS and all our public services must be protected from TTIP – to do this we must reject all of this secret deal,' says Mark Dearn from War on Want

By Oliver Wright
Thursday 19 May 2016 17:05
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Campaign groups and unions have applauded Tory Eurosceptics for uniting with Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to derail the Government’s Queen’s speech over the controversial TTIP trade deal.

The Independent has revealed Mr Corbyn is to forge an unholy alliance with right-wing Tories backing a vote to leave the EU.

Under the plan, Labour MPs will be told to support an amendment to the Queen's Speech, which will be voted on next week, that states they “regret” the Government has not included a bill that would “protect the National Health Service from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”.

If the amendment is passed it would be the first time a Government has lost a Queen’s speech vote in nearly 100 years and be acutely embarrassing for David Cameron.

But campaign groups said the deal was well worth doing if it puts pressure on the Government to demand that the NHS be excluded from any TTIP negotiations.

Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, said the fact the Government is facing a backbench rebellion is testament to just how toxic an issue the trade deal has become.

“In the space of a couple of years, TTIP has gone from an obscure acronym, to a massively controversial issue that has not only been a key issue in the EU referendum debate,” he said.

“MPs are right to push the issue over the need to protect the NHS and other vital public services from the threat of TTIP. Polls have constantly shown just how important the NHS is to voters in the UK, but the government has been steadfast in its refusal to explicitly and bindingly rule it out of the negotiations. This is despite the fact that public health services in other countries have been attacked under similar trade deals."

Mark Dearn, Senior Trade Campaigner at War on Want, added:“The NHS has always been in TTIP and the danger this deal poses to our health, medical and dental services is clear and present. The government and European Commission’s claim that the NHS is safe is complete rubbish.

“The government could have excluded the NHS from TTIP – as the French government did with its film industry – but instead it chose to offer it up for permanent privatisation.

“The NHS and all our public services must be protected from TTIP – to do this we must reject all of this secret deal.”

The union Unite urged MPs from across the political divide to back the amendment .

It said other countries have exempted key areas from the deal but pointed out that David Cameron has not done this for the NHS, despite legal advice from a senior QC that showed that TTIP poses a “real and serious risk to the NHS”.

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “The amendment gives MPs a unique opportunity to neutralise the NHS as an EU referendum issue and to protect our health service from irreversible privatisation.

“This is a chance that the UK cannot afford to miss. Once TTIP is signed the UK will be locked into the deal for two decades. The UK will lose its sovereignty to make important decisions on health and you can say goodbye to the NHS as we know it.”

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