The Absurd Claim That A US Free Trade Agreement Requires Privatising The NHS


The Senior Lecturer tells us that we must stay inside the European Union so that we can protect the National Health Service. You see, if we leave, then we’ll try and get a free trade agreement with the United States. And such an agreement would require – no, really, require – the privatisation of the national religion, the NHS.

The correct response to this claim is bunkum, tosh, and Dear Lord what have you been smoking?

Let me, however, offer just one good reason for staying in the EU this morning. Doing so lets us protect our NHS from the privatisation that a new trade deal with the USA would require. I stress: require. That would be their condition for a deal. And from then on the idea that the NHS might be free at the point of supply would be gone. As would any sense of quality. We have seen what has happened with outsourcing and privatisation time after time now. Service quality collapses and costs rise. Only the executives of the supplying companies gain. And this is what would happen if we leave the EU. Like night follows day.

It’s an interesting claim, certainly. It’s just that there seems not even one iota of truth to it.

The most obvious method of showing this being to point to Canada. Which has had a free trade agreement with the United States since 1988. And Nafta is about as close a deal as the EU’s Single Market, certainly it’s not entirely dissimilar to the Customs Union. And Canadian health care?

Access to health care based on need rather than ability to pay was the founding principle of the Canadian health-care system. Medicare was born in one province in 1947. It spread across the country through federal cost sharing, and eventually was harmonised through standards in a federal law, the Canada Health Act of 1984.

That’s not been changed by the free trade with the US thing. So a fairly fundamental question here. Where is the Senior Lecturer getting this proof of requirement? Or is that second sentence back the answer to that?