Brits start major fightback against Tory vote for NHS to be ‘controlled from outside the UK’

Boris Johnson
Tracy Keeling

Brits have started the fightback against a Tory vote that blocked protection against the NHS being ‘controlled from outside the UK’.

The vote, on an amendment to the Trade Bill, took place on 20 July. By 22 July, campaign group We Own It had launched a petition aimed at the House of Lords. It called on them to amend the Trade Bill to the give protections for our NHS that Conservative MPs had rejected. Within less than 24 hours of that petition going public, over 54,000 people had signed it.

The amendment

As The Canary previously reported, the amendment, proposed by Labour, would have prevented the UK government from signing up to any trade deal that “undermines or restricts” the NHS’s status as a public universal healthcare system. That would have included the trade deal the US and the UK are currently negotiating. It also sought to ensure that new trade deals couldn’t hamper the appropriate UK authorities’ ability to:

  • Protect rights and working conditions for public sector employees.
  • Regulate the “quality and safety” of health and care services.
  • Control the pricing of medicines and medical equipment.
  • Protect patient, public health, and social care data that relates to UK citizens.

Among other things, the amendment further aimed to prevent the NHS or other public services being the subject of litigation via an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause in trade deals. Such clauses allow companies to sue governments – in a secret court – if they feel country officials are unfairly limiting their access to markets by making certain legislative decisions.

Actions not words

The House of Commons Twitter account summed up the amendment after the vote, saying it would have protected the NHS and other public health and care services from “any form of control from outside the UK”. It has since deleted the tweet:

As the tweet states, MPs voted down the amendment by 340 votes to 251. Only Conservative MPs voted against it. Meanwhile, most Conservative MPs also voted against parliamentary approval being required for trade deals. As the Mirror reported, the party’s MPs also voted against keeping chlorine-washed chicken and “other poor-quality US foods out of the UK”. The paper said Conservative ministers defended their party’s actions by insisting:

the amendments were not needed – as they’ve repeatedly said no element of the NHS will be up for grabs in a future trade deal, and standards will not be lowered.

But it appears many people in the UK think the Conservatives’ actions speak louder than words. Not only the recent actions of the party’s MPs in voting down these amendments, but the decade-long decimation of the NHS by successive Conservative governments. During that time government officials have chronically underfunded the health service and introduced legislation that put contract-grabbing private companies at the heart of it.

So now people are looking to the House of Lords to right the latest egregious wrong.

“Last chance”

In a press release, We Own It asserted:

the Trade Bill as currently worded would pose a range of dangers for the health service, opening up the NHS to being charged more for drugs, enshrine the rights of American [US] healthcare companies to access our NHS in international treaties and “lock in” privatisation that would be incredibly difficult for a future government to reverse.

It also noted that a recent poll suggested 75% of Britons want protections for the NHS in any US-UK trade deal. The group’s campaigns officer, Ellen Lees, accused Conservative MPs of ‘betraying’ the country and the NHS. But she said:

it’s not too late to protect the NHS. The Trade Bill hasn’t become law just yet. Now it’s time for the House of Lords to step in

The Lords are due to debate the Trade Bill in the autumn, after parliament’s summer recess. If the public’s response to the petition in its first 24 hours is anything to go by, the Lords should be in no doubt of what the country expects of them by the time they return: to seize this “last chance to protect the NHS”.

Featured image via YouTube – The Independent

Get involved

  • Sign the We Own It petition calling on the Lords to protect our NHS.

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Tories have already absolved themselves of responsibility in anything approaching stewardship of the NHS. See Hunt’s taking away overall responsibility from the secretary of state in the 2012 “Health and Social Care” Act. Flushed into a sea of quangos along with his reputation.

      Its not that far of a leap for them to finish the job if no-one can be held accountable before it goes. Will just leave an unorganised public to fight over the remnants. A general strike is needed now, before this gets out of hand. I am shocked that the nurses haven’t manned the pickets in massive numbers since the Tories “(no) top down reorganisation of the NHS”.

    2. These idiots will find out in the end that the return of extreme poverty will bring with it poverty diseases, and that poverty diseases do not restrict themselves to the poor. While some conditions like ricketts aren’t transmissible others most certainly are, and we will see increases in TB and scarlet fever, the spread of parasites like nits and thread worm, and fungal diseases like candida and ringworm. Very itchy and a real problem for those affected.

      Just as before the different classes do not mix socially, but we must all use places like banks, post offices, supermarkets, filling stations, the law courts etc. And for the really rich who can avoid these places personally, they have staff who run their homes who must mix with the rest of us. Perhaps when the well-heeled come down with these conditions again they’ll learn again why the Victorians were keen to ensure public health as much as they could.

      1. So right: Covid is the perfect time to point out how reducing the people of this country to poverty has an endemic backlash. With antibiotic resistant TB this is already happening. So the politics of Capital are politics of greed and sentiment but not of reason. Profits now, who needs a planet later…

      2. How very true, I wonder when the new Work Houses will be created?
        Perhaps old office blocks could be used to solve the problem of no houses being built?

        Perfect solution for those out of work as a result of lockdown.

        The poor have been demonised with benefit cuts.
        The unemployed are shirkers.

        You get what you vote for.
        ‘You aint seen nothing yet’ …..

    3. I first heard of this from a handbill distributed in Portobello Road, London, by an activist. Well I call that activism! And here is our government, deemed by the security service a threat to the realm, still trying to sneak this past us. They probably will. I love (hate) the irony that a country of nasty, violent, gun toting racists that can’t bear to dispense medicine to their own people want to take over our dispensation. To have them running the NHS would be like a wolf herding sheep.

      Doris and his nasty little public school cronies are just doing what comes naturally, seeking to advance their paymasters by compromising the welfare of the electorate. It’s the electorate itself that worries me. What kind of vice, greed, selfishness and stupidity inclines a majority to respond to media transparent in telling them what they want to hear? We didn’t get trades unions, Lloyd George, Bevin and the poor old Labour Party, itself hogtied by more self serving, power and status hungry hypocrites, like this.

      Clearly the majority of our voters are as vicious and selfish as the Tories themselves. But where the Tories vote for their own interests this majority vote against theirs. The only proper words I know for such people are verboten in a righteous rag like this. But, dear merciful father in heaven, how we need the righteous when the evil prosper. And when it comes to rogue electorates lets remember Israeli elections. It takes a people as well as a government to make a democracy. I feel sick. I’m as mad as hell and I just keep on taking it, all the way to the bank! I could go on…

    4. Why am I not surprised about this?
      Who already warned about this?

      The Great NHS Heist was film made about it.
      Jeremy Corbyn, that anti semite, racist (allegedly) already told everyone about it.

      Who will it affect the most?
      That will be the Middle Class Tory voters.
      They will be the only ones able to pay the premium insurance costs

      Some people really are too stupid to be alive…
      I told you so….

    5. tried to sign petition following link from canary. Nothing. Bye bye NHS. Where is the hope? There was a notion that before the coming of Capitalism that life was nasty brutish and short. Looks like we’ll be going full circle in the not too distant future. It’s a pity the conservative/tory party’s life only seems to manifest two of those three adjectives…

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