Jeremy Corbyn says uncensored documents show NHS is part of 'toxic' post-Brexit trade talks with US

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour has obtained official redacted documents showing the US is demanding the NHS will be "on the table" in talks on a post-Brexit trade deal despite reassurances from Boris Johnson it would never be up for sale.

The Labour leader said the 451 uncensored papers gave the lie to the Prime Minister's claims the NHS would not be part of any trade talks, claiming the documents show "not only a plot against the NHS, it’s a plot against the whole country."

"The uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson's denials in absolute tatters," he told a news conference in London.

"We have 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 in a secret agenda and today it has been exposed."

  • Romilly Weeks explains what is in the document unveiled by Labour

Speaking in Westminster, Mr Corbyn said December's general election was about the "survival of our NHS", claiming "Labour will never treat our NHS as a bargaining chip."

Mr Corbyn said the documents covered six rounds of talks from July 2017 to "just a few months ago".

He said the meetings took place in Washington DC and London and were at an advanced stage.

"We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit," he said.

On medicine pricing, he said discussions had already been concluded between the two sides on lengthening patents.

"Longer patents can only mean one thing - more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this," he said.

Mr Corbyn first mentioned the documents during his clash with Mr Johnson on the ITV debate but the papers were censored at the time.

He pointed to the example to the drug Humira - used to treat Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis - which costs the NHS £1,409 a packet while in the US the price was 38,115.

Following the news conference, Boris Johnson gave a "cast iron guarantee" the NHS is not up for sale or privatisation.

He said: "I can give you an absolute cast iron guarantee that this is a complete diversion that the NHS under no circumstances will be on the table for negotiation for sale.

"Look at what we are doing with the NHS we are funding it massively."

Mr Johnson added: "We are absolutely resolved that there is no sale of the NHS, no privatisation, the NHS is not on the table in any way."

Brexit Party Leader told ITV News US President Donald Trump had told him "to his face" the NHS was not "on the table" in trade talks between the two countries.

"What they would like to do is get access to for their drugs to our market. But do you know something? If their drugs are too expensive, we're just not going to buy them. No British government would sign up for drugs that were too expensive," he said.

But Mr Corbyn said according to the readout of the second meeting, UK officials noted the "patent issues" around "NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration" in talks.

By the fourth meeting, he said, the officials on the two sides were ready to "exchange text" and to "really take significant further steps" - suggesting the negotiations were at a "very advanced stage".

Chuka Umuna also shared his concern about the meetings.

He told ITV News the UK would face an "inequality of bargaining power" against the US.

The Liberal Democrat candidate said: "They will demand that the NHS is on the table."And the way to stop this from happening and stop being in a desperate position to achieve a flawed trade deal with the US is to stay in the European Union and we're the only main party, only UK-wide main party making that argument."

Despite Labour's efforts to move the narrative away from anti-Antisemitism, the documents could not distract from the issue.

Shadow International Trade Secretary, Barry Gardiner visibly bristled when ITV News Political Correspondent LIbby Wiener asked Mr Corbyn if he would apologise for his handling of anti-Semitic incidents.

"Was that just an opportune moment to get a dig in about something else?" he said in response to her question.

Mr Corbyn once again refused to apologise but did address the issue, saying he would die fighting against racism "in any form".

"I have made it very clear anti-Semitism is completely wrong in our society, our party did make it clear when I was elected leader, and after, that anti-Semitism was unacceptable in any form in our party or our society," he said.

He added: "And did indeed offer its sympathies and apologies to those that had suffered."

Mr Corbyn said a Government with him in charge would be "the most anti-racist government you've ever seen", adding: "Because that is what I've spent my whole life doing - fighting against racism - and I will die fighting against racism."