TTIP: Jeremy Corbyn and rebel Tory MPs to form alliance to protect NHS from transatlantic trade deal

Exclusive: The move means the Government could be defeated on a Queen’s Speech vote for the first time in 100 years

Oliver Wright
Political Editor
Thursday 19 May 2016 10:24
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Jeremy Corbyn is to forge an unholy alliance with Tory Eurosceptic MPs to back a plan that would ‘protect’ the NHS from the controversial TTIP trade deal with the US, The Independent understands.

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”.

More than two dozen of Tory Eurosceptic MPs have also pledged to back the amendment that would inflict an embarrassing defeat on David Cameron just weeks before the EU referendum. Those behind the amendment, including the former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, say they also expect to get the backing from the Scottish Nationalists and the DUP.

With a working majority of less than 20 this would be more than enough to defeat the Government on the amendment.

If so it would be the first time a Government has been defeated on a Queen’s Speech vote in nearly 100 years

The move by Tory Europsceptics to openly side with Mr Corbyn to defeat on the Government will further inflame tensions in the Tory party.

It will infuriate Downing Street who attempted to use the unveiling of the Queen’s Speech yesterday to set a fresh agenda for the party after the June 23 poll.

What is TTIP?

But it will also anger some moderate pro-European Labour MPs who will see it as further evidence of Mr Corbyn’s ambivalence towards Britain’s membership of the European Union.

A Labour source said they intended to stick narrowly to the point about TTIP but admitted that a number of Tories backing the amendment had “mixed motives”.

“Some of them are doing it from an anti-EU perspective but others just want to give Cameron a slap,” they said.

“We are more than happy to provide an outlet for them to vent their spleen.”

But Mr Lilley said he had long standing concerns about TTIP which he wanted the Government to address.

'I support free trade. But TTIP introduces special courts which are not necessary for free trade, will give American multinationals the right to sue our government (but not vice versa) and could put our NHS at risk,” he said.

“I cannot understand why the government has not tried to exclude the NHS.

“I and other Tory MPs successfully lobbied to bring a failing private Surgicenter serving our constituencies back into the NHS. It would have been impossible or hugely costly under TTIP had there had been an American owner who could have sued the NHS in a TTIP Court.'

A Labour Party Spokesman said that it was natural to support the amendment as it was in the party’s manifesto at the last election.

That said: “We support the principles behind the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty (TTIP).

“We will hold the European Commission to account on issues of concern, including the impact on public services and the Investor to State Dispute Settlement Mechanism. And we will ensure the NHS is protected from the TTIP treaty.”

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