With a general election looming, Channel 4 reminds us exactly why we can’t trust Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson
Emily Apple

On 29 October, Boris Johnson will introduce legislation to bypass the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act and force a general election. Jeremy Corbyn has just announced that Labour will support a December election.

And while a general election is desperately needed, Channel 4‘s Dispatches programme on 28 October was a timely reminder of exactly why Johnson cannot be trusted to run the country.

Called Trump’s Plan for the NHS, the episode:

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investigates how a trade deal with America might leave the NHS footing a bill for billions, meaning less money for our healthcare.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth summed up the situation:

[the prime minister] wants to sign up to a US trade deal with Trump which would force the NHS to buy pricier drugs from US pharmaceutical companies putting NHS finances at risk.

The big Brexit sell-off

During an election campaign, Johnson will be desperate to appeal to Leave voters. He will incessantly repeat his mantra of ‘getting Brexit done’, presenting parliament as a Remain-obsessed institution desperate to thwart the will of the people. And he will continually emphasise his deal and how great it is – a deal, he will argue, that no-one thought was possible.

The government claims that the NHS will not be part of any Brexit trade negotiations. But the Dispatches investigation revealed secret meetings between “senior civil servants” and US pharmaceutical companies:

As Corbyn tweeted, this is why Labour is so committed to stopping a no-deal Brexit:

“A weaker negotiating party”

Dispatches also set out exactly why any negotiations are problematic. Lawyer Tahir Armin stressed that Brexit means the UK is the “weaker negotiating party”. Armin asserted that the US sees:

an opportunity to prise open the market and actually remove some of the barriers that the NHS presents in terms of government regulating of prices.

Compare and contrast

Corbyn, meanwhile, will not only refuse to sell the NHS off to the highest bidder, he’ll also take action to stop the obscene profits drug companies make from the NHS. At the Labour Party conference, Corbyn announced plans to create a state-owned pharmaceutical company to ensure the NHS isn’t priced out of life-saving drugs.

He said:

We’ll tell the drugs companies that if they want public research funding then they’ll have to make their drugs affordable for all. And we will create a new publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS saving our health service money and saving lives.

Cutting through the lies

We need a general election, but the biggest problem for the left is cutting through the lies Johnson and his government so easily spout. Johnson will literally say anything to get elected, it seems. He will deny the NHS is for sale. He’ll promise money left, right, and centre. And he’ll make promises that he won’t think twice about breaking.

And this is what makes programmes like Dispatches so important. Lives literally depend on cutting through the spin. And all of us need to be countering this on a daily basis, with our families, our friends, and in our communities. Our collective power can and will beat Johnson, get the Tories out, and save our NHS.

Featured image via YouTube – Sky News

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