Laura Kuenssberg’s appalling reaction to the NHS bombshell Corbyn just dropped

Laura Kuenssberg and Jeremy Corbyn
Tracy Keeling

Jeremy Corbyn dropped a bombshell and a half on 27 November. The Labour leader exposed over 400 pages of documents detailing secret talks between US and UK officials in relation to a post-Brexit trade deal with the country.

The documents should be career-ending for Boris Johnson. According to Corbyn, they show that officials are at an “advanced stage” of negotiating a steep increase in drug prices for the NHS, that access for US corporations to run services in the NHS is under discussion, that talks have included discussion of a “system that gives corporations the power to sue our country”, and that the US is offering to share its propaganda with the UK government to trick the media and country into lowering food standards.

In light of all that, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg’s reaction is absolutely appalling.

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But, but

Corbyn exposed the previously secret documents in a dramatic challenge to Johnson. The PM has previously described the idea that the NHS will be up for grabs in a US trade deal as “an absolute invention”.

In the announcement, Corbyn said:

We’ve now got evidence that, under Boris Johnson, the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up, his secret agenda, but today it’s been exposed. Now we know the truth, when Johnson says “get Brexit done”, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality, years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale. This election is now a fight for the survival of our national health service, as a public service free for all at the point of need.

Affirming Labour’s position, he added:

Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS.

Corbyn then went onto explain exactly how “our NHS is up for sale” under the Conservative government. Kuenssberg posted a series of tweets in response, starting with the following:

The BBC political editor is right that journalists should have a “proper look” at the documents. In fact, Corbyn encourages them to do so. What’s absolutely flooring about her response, however, is that she says the Labour leader doesn’t “provide evidence” ministers have agreed with the plans. Because the UK officials involved in the talks are working at the behest of the UK government, i.e. the ministers.

NHS drugs

Here’s what Corbyn says the officials, working on behalf of the UK government, have been doing:

These reports cover six rounds of talks, running from July 2017 until just a few months ago. The meetings took place in both Washington DC and London… We’re talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit… A deal that will shape our country’s future. These reports pull back on the curtain of the secrecy that’s been plotted for all of us behind closed doors by this Conservative government.

Specifically on medicine pricing, Corbyn says the “negotiations have advanced even further than we feared”. He explained:

The US and the UK have already finished initial discussion on lengthening patents for medicines. Longer patents can mean only one thing. More expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this. Many out-of-patent medicines available cheaply here are vastly more expensive under patent law in the United States. The drug, Humira, for crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, costs our national health service £1,409 a packet. In the United States the same packet costs £8,115.

He added:

One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250% higher than those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies

Quoting from the documents, Corbyn says UK officials reported that patent issues around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration in talks”. The documents say officials are ready to “exchange text” on drug patents, which the Labour leader describes as “trade negotiator speak for it being at a very advanced stage”. Officials say they’re ready to “really take significant further steps” Corbyn claims, adding:

Big pharma has ripped off and imperiled the health of the American people for years. Now these secret reports show they’re looking to do the same to us, if the Conservatives are elected on December 12.

NHS services

The Labour leader said that NHS services are also on the table in the talks:

The new breed of trade deals are not only or even mainly about tariffs on goods at the border. They’re also about services, including our health service. And these documents make clear… everything is included unless something is specifically excluded. They want, I quote, “total market access” as the baseline assumption of the trade negotiations.

And the documents, according to Corbyn, show that the UK government has promised to be a “liberalising” influence. Liberalisation means relaxing laws and rules to remove restrictions to, in this case, trade. Corbyn said:

On behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence and that together they could fly the good flag for services liberalisation. That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit from them.

The Labour leader added:

So now we know, direct from the secret reports that they never wanted you to see. The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal. It’s already been talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service. Mega corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.

The Labour leader also argued that, once implemented, such changes would be “almost irreversible” because “officials have discussed the system that gives corporations the power to sue our country”. He concluded:

This is not only a plot against our NHS, it’s a plot against the whole country.

Everything is on the table

Kuenssberg also had something else interesting to say about the NHS revelations:

But despite the BBC political editor’s suggestion that all this will ‘motivate’ only Labour voters, it affects everyone who depends on the NHS. So although she effectively relegated worries about these revelations to people who support Labour, they are a concern for the majority of the country – and should ‘motivate’ all voters in this election.

Also of concern to everyone is the fact that Corbyn says the NHS isn’t the only aspect of British life under discussion in the talks. Food safety, gender discrimination rules and workers’ rights are among the things discussed. On food safety in particular, such as chlorine-washed chicken, Corbyn says the documents show the US has even offered “to share its public lines to help our government with its media narratives”. Meanwhile, Corbyn says Trump “refuses to mention climate change in the deal”.

All these revelations should be a cause of great concern to everyone. Because, despite what Kuenssberg says, it’s the Conservative government that’s leading on this negotiation. And if people elect the Conservatives to government again on 12 December, this vision of horror show Britain could be exactly what we get.

Featured image via YouTube – BBC News / YouTube – The Telegraph

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  • Show Comments
    1. Two matters arising.

      1. The BBC must regain credibility for impartiality by forbidding Kuenssberg along with other editors, reporters, and commentators employed by the BBC, from expressing opinions on election topics via social media. Any such opinion as they are hired to offer ought be presented ‘on air’ and nowhere else. Employees of the BBC who enjoy air time and/or editorially determining what should be broadcast must temporarily sacrifice expression of opinion via other media lest the imprimatur of the BBC is mistakenly attributed to it by people coming across it.

      2. Johnson will claim discussion with the USA over post-Brexit trade talks was initiated before he became prime minister. However, regardless of whether he was involved or knew the direction preliminary talks were taking, these discussions were at behest of ministers and would be consistent with prevailing Cabinet thinking. During that time Johnson, then not in the Cabinet, was a vocal proponent of the kind of extreme Brexit necessary for a trade deal with the USA independent from EU arrangements and thus open to placing the NHS on the table.

      Johnson and his chosen Cabinet are more vocal supporters of neo-liberalism (and stuffing their own pockets) than Mrs May and her close colleagues were. Thus, it must be assumed the leaked documents are not inconsistent with Johnson’s own position on trade.

      Johnson’s behaviour following appointment as prime minister was a cascade of scandalous attempts to bypass Parliament and mislead the Queen. It was clear Johnson was intent on ‘no-deal Brexit’. This taken together with Johnson’s documented untruths whilst PM, his previous political gaffes, his propensity for foolish and/or offensive utterances, and tomcat life style, lead to concluding nothing Johnson now says is trustworthy.

      What recourse does the electorate have if he leads the next government with no intent of honouring previously made assurances? By time of the following general election, no-deal Brexit and sacrifice of the NHS would be water under the bridge and irreversible. All political parties opposing election of another Conservative government ought allocate resource to hammering home Johnson’s mendacity, incompetence, and knavish motives. Repetition is a powerful, yet undervalued, tool of education.

    2. I’m no Kuenssberg fan but her pointing out that there is absolutely no proof of what Corbyn says in the documents isn’t biased, just a fact. It’s utter tosh to believe that the new Tory government will sign up to increasing the cost of drugs as that would mean they’d have to increase the funding, it makes no sense. Whilst there are plenty of countries which have far better health care by creating competition rather than having a bloated badly managed behemoth such as the NHS, all the political parties know that the NHS is such a political hot potato that changing it would inevitably bring them down. Unfortunately Corbyn chooses to lie about what the Tories will do to try and gain votes for his project to bring the whole country to it’s knees.

      1. I cannot envision a government of any colour agreeing to pay £1 more for medicines unless they got £1.01 in another area of the agreement

        If that happened, and the NHS got the £1 and the government spent the 1p on something else – what’s the problem?

        There are a whole raft of people on social media saying that “they’re going to sell the NHS”. Ask them what they mean by that and the answer is silence.

        The NHS has operated under a Cons/coalition government for more than half of its life – if it’s for sale it’s taking a very long time.

        1. Graham, yes, but it is only under 3 successive Tory Governments that it has been in serious decline. My answer to your question as to why a Government would pay anymore for drugs well, your answer is, Conservative MPs vested financial interests of course and those of their billionaire backers.

          The Agreement is all there in the documents JC made public today – you cannot deny documentary evidence – even if the Tories are abject, pathological liars, corrupt, irresponsible and care nothing about Britain or the population of Britain unless of course, you are a billionaire and donate £5.7m to their election campaign (badly spent money as it happens).

          The evidence is irrefutible. Had these documents belonged to a Labour Government you and your kind would have demanded resignations, called corruption etc.

          Of course BoJo has sold the UK down the river to the USA. You should be concerned that the USA has offered to access to their propaganda machine to trick British people into accepting far lower and less safe food standards than currently prevail.

          If you support this corrupt Tory Government then I can only conclude you must have extreme right wing Fascist tendencies.

          1. Haha, the only extremism going on here is from the left! The Conservative party is no where near facism, not even the Brexit party is facist and the British public have largely rejected them. The BNP are nowhere in this country and look at the rest of Europe, many of the countries have well supported hard right parties that would never get the kind of support in this country that they get on the continent. Get a grip.

          2. “If you support this corrupt Tory Government then I can only conclude you must have extreme right wing Fascist tendencies”

            That’ll be all 13 million of us then?

      2. SJW what a load of tosh!! The document provides clear evidence. Are you familiar with the Transatlantic Trade Treaty the USA were trying to negotiate with the EU? Well, everything in the document JC was referring to yesterday was everything they tried to get the EU today – the latter of course, very sensibly ended negotiations on the Treaty. They went as far as to say that the key objective for the USA was that millions and millions of jobs in Europe would be transferred to the USA.

        Also, just take a look at the USA agreement with South Korea. Plenty of evidence there about paying much higher costs for pharmaceutical drugs. It’s all there, you just need to look.

        There is overwhelming and abundant evidence – JC quoted from the document – you also need to get your head around the fact that BoJo is a pathological power, a Fascist, a Racist, a Mysoginist and prone to a bit of domestic violence and abuse. The question should be why is Kuessnberg so far up BoJo’s backside that her mind is full of his s**t she can’t see or breathe anything else.

        Go figure

      3. You literally don’t know what you are talking about, and you are completely incapable of providing proof of any of your claims, or of being able to think logically, or assess reality in any meaningful way, because you are a mindless automaton that only responds when programmed and paid to do so.

        You are a machine troll with no ability to think for yourself, just spouting vitriol into the world to cause mayhem because it is the only childish power you know, and repeating garbage ad nauseam is the only mental process you are capable of.

        You are an infant that has literally no grip on the world around you, no understanding of the flesh and psychology that make you up or how it really works, and you are incapable of truth even if your own pathetic existence depended on it, which it does, and you still don’t understand what that means for you … do you?

        You may have your head buried in the sand, or up your own arse, that’s fine, but you also happen to share the World with people who can actually think, reason, and come to truthful conclusions. You don’t even know what Democracy is or isn’t, and you couldn’t even tell the difference between the left and the right, as all you are able to deduce with your feeble excuse for thought is what you have been spoon-fed to believe.

        On the subject of utter tosh, that’s what you are spouting because you cannot provide a single shred of proof for what you claim, whereas Jeremy Corbyn and the last 40+ years do provide proof of American Corporate Greed, and where it is headed.

        Those that try to argue (badly) that it doesn’t make sense for the USA to do this to us, are woefully and wilfully ignorant of the facts of life, and are without doubt delusional thinkers with a very minimal grasp on reality. Big US Pharma has already raised the price of drugs precipitously and exorbitantly, forcing many into medical debt-poverty in the US, and in other places on Earth.

        I suggest you and people like you, wake up to the reality of life on Earth, and go and get yourself educated as to what evils are already being perpetrated against us, because by your logic, no one has ever been harmed, no government or peoples have ever made bad decisions for all the wrong reasons, and your defence … that ‘it doesn’t make sense’ is just a very public declaration of your crass and base ignorance. Just because you don’t possess the wherewithal to see or work out why it makes perfect sense for them to raise prices, you think no-one else can.

        If you’re going to stick your head in the sand, and ignore facts, truth, and history, keep it all in your pathetic little deluded echo-bubble, you are just showing off how badly informed, and how grotesquely malformed your psyche is.

        You posted;
        “… there are plenty of countries which have far better health care by creating competition rather than having a bloated badly managed behemoth such as the NHS …”

        Go on then, name them … I’ll bet you any sum of money that they don’t have better health care because of ‘competition’, and ‘better’ is something you really need to qualify, as it is clear you are measuring with a broken rule. If you hold up American health care as an example, you deserve to be ridiculed and discredited for your obtuseness and stupidity.

        It is a fact that our system of health care has been copied around the world to great acclaim and success. Here follows a quote from;-

        https://fr.april-international.com/en/healthcare-expatriates/which-countries-have-best-healthcare-systems

        “In its study called Mirror, Mirror 2017- International Comparison Reflects Flaws and Opportunities for Better U.S. Health Care, the Commonwealth Fund assessed the performance of healthcare systems in 11 countries based on 72 indicators. The idea was to find out how efficient healthcare in the United States is. The survey ranked US healthcare clear last…

        1. United Kingdom

        2. Australia

        3. Netherlands

        4. New Zealand and Norway

        6. Switzerland and Sweden

        8. Germany

        9. Canada

        10. France

        11. USA”

        Note that all the top ranked healthcare systems are either full-on publicly funded, or a mix of both, but none of the best ones use ‘competition’ to improve their health care services. It is just a simple fact that the private sector can not, and will not ever be able to do it cheaper than the public sector can, nor to a higher standard (except for very very rich people).

        Profit, at the heart of healthcare is an absolute guarantee that the money will be put before the human, and it literally creates the motive to keep people ill and addicted rather than eradicating illness, which is the preferred goal of non-profits. Throwing money at stuff does not make something better, and making money the motivating factor is historically the quickest way to corrupt anything.

        Giving people the option to make money out of misery is a sure-fire guarantee of increasing and maintaining that misery, as there is literally the incentive to keep it that way. That is why essential societal services (even in an extremely capitalist society like the USA) should be publicly-owned, not corporately owned.

        Societies only work if there is a quid-pro-quo, we don’t abdicate our power and freedom for nothing, we do it for the benefit of the whole. If it’s every one for themselves, then there is no society, there is no nation, no law except the law of the Jungle, kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. If that’s the ‘society’ you think human beings should have, then you are routing for the destruction of us and this world. A house divided is a house that falls.

        Grow up, people do stupid things on grand scales all the time, it’s rarely accidental, and mostly because of greed, this is why people are denied cures every day, even though those cures exist, and whose development was funded with public, not private money.

        You are the very definition of an ignoramus.

        1. Crikey what a lot ramble and vitriol you like to use to try and shut down a debate. What a lot of assumptions you make about me and words you put in my mouth too. Competition within healthcare has arguments for and against but my partner works for the NHS is is totally bewildered by the waste and inefficiency and what I hear from her shocks me. It may be a national instution but it shouldn’t be unquestionable.

          Anyway, please feel free to throw more bile at me if it helps you. Gives me a chuckle too.

    3. Well, typical of Laura Kuessnberg isn’t it. She should be suspended from any political reporting during this election as she is so far up BoJo’s nether regions her mind has been intensely polluted with all his s**t so she can’t see the truth from a corrupt, lying, cheating Prime Miniser – or rather – a disgraceful charlatan and sorry excuse for a Prime Minister. Teresa May narrowly won the last election having run the worst campaign in British Parliamentary history. The BBC, as the official Propaganda machine for the Tory Party (under Kuenssberg’s management as Political Editor), has had to resort to fraud and deceitful tactics in order to shield BoJo from public scrutiny of his pathological lies, his behaviour, his racism, his sexism and his gross incompetence and power crazed delusions. We live in a Democracy or so we are told, we are also in an election period where it is incumbent on Broadcast Media to be strictly impartial. Kuessnberg should be suspended with immediate effect for misleading the public, for fraudulent doctoring of TV footage, for deceitful and grossly partial alleged reporting 100% in favour of the Tory Party.

      The BBC should make public on their website, on Kuessnberg’s blogs and twitter that she is 100% biased and supportive of the Tory Party, whatever lies, corruption, gross incompetence and fraud and deceit they perpetrate so at least the public can read her comments with this knowledge in mind.

      Look at the BBC Politics website – I searched but couldn’t find barely any coverage of Corbyn’s brilliant speech to the Labour Party Conference, the launch of their visionary Manifesto and their Youth Manifesto and these documents. Witholding of key information for the public is Censorship on a massive scale. Propaganda is a tool designed to disseminate serious misinformation to the masses in order to promote one particular ideology. In fact, there is very little coverage of anything to do with Labour and now this clear stitch-up with the Andrew Neil interview of JC.

      Kuessnberg should be suspended for Gross Misconduct, interfering with the General Election, publishing Propaganda and a gross lack of the requirements of impartiality.

      I am just finishing a detailed complaint to OfCom about the BBC’s conduct over the past 2-3 weeks which is entirely biased towards the Tory Party and BoJo in particular. I have provided evidence in that complaint as to the extent of the BBC’s Propaganda campaign, fraud and deliberate misinformation. As soon as I have submitted it I will send a copy to the Canary if they want to use it.

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