South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has today demanded an explanation from Conservative MP Alister Jack for his decision to vote against further privatisation of the NHS in future foreign trade deals – including with the USA – a subject which Ms Harper has raised on a number of occasions since the EU exit in 2016.
Mr Jack opted to vote against an amendment to the UK Trade Bill – a Bill which sets out which areas the UK Government are willing to trade on after the UK leaves the EU – which would have prevented any trade deal which “undermines or restricts” our publicly-funded health service. This is particularly concerning as the US President has stated that “everything will be on the table” when it comes to a potential trade deal.
With all parties claiming they would not support trade deals which threatened the NHS at last year’s general election, the South Scotland MSP has questioned the rationale behind the controversial decision.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how precious each of the four UK Health services are to those who use them, and it’s our duty as local politicians to do everything we can to ensure our NHS is protected from post-Brexit trade deals with countries such as the USA particularly as the US President has made it clear that he would like everything on the table for a trade deal.
”The Scottish Government will always keep Scotland’s NHS safe in public hands. Indeed, this position has been made clear by the First Minister on numerous occasions and I welcome this.
“But while the Scottish Parliament has control of most aspects of health policy, we currently cannot stop Westminster governments from entering into trade deals that potentially put our NHS at a variety of risks. In the last few months, perhaps more than ever, our NHS has been there to care for and protect us.
“So it beggars belief that Mr Jack has decided to turn his back on our NHS when it came to protecting our health service from foreign privatisation.
“Voters will remember this, and they deserve an explanation.”