WEST Dorset MP Chris Loder has defended his decision to vote against a new Trade Bill clause, which opposition parties say would have protected the NHS during Brexit trade deals.
Backed by Labour, the Green party tabled the clause that would have created a law to protect the NHS during trade deals with other countries, to prevent medication price hikes, staff pay cuts, and patient data being sold, as well as ensuring that healthcare remains free at the point of delivery for UK patients.
Mr Loder was one of 337 Conservative MPs to vote against the clause, saying that Labour’s claims that it was about protecting the NHS from US President Donald Trump were “lies and political nonsense”.
The clause was rejected after a majority of Conservative MPs voted against – only 248 MPs voted in favour – with Labour saying this now leaves the NHS open to privatisation.
Those who voted against the clause have faced significant criticism in light of the NHS’ vital role played in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Defending his decision to reject the new clause, Mr Loder said: “This amendment (new clause 17) was put forward by MPs who still cannot accept the will of the British people to leave the EU and I will not continue in the steps of those who want to stop it.
“The people of the South West want Brexit done. This politicking from MPs who either don’t know where they stand, or still cannot accept the will of the British people, now deserves to be voted down – as I indeed did and was pleased to do.
“In terms of the NHS, the government has committed on numerous occasions, and in its 2019 manifesto, that the NHS is nothing to do with a trade deal.
“Only last week the Prime Minister announced an additional £3billion in funding to the NHS in England, coming on top of the £30billion already announced for health and social care earlier this year; and a public sector pay rise just awarded to our doctors.
“The government has already said the Trade Bill only applies to EU countries with whom Britain has an existing trade relationship – not the US. Claims by Labour that these amendments were about protecting the NHS from President Trump, are lies and political nonsense.
“As West Dorset’s Member of Parliament, and as somebody who owes so much to the NHS, I remain very clear, and so does government; that our NHS, including its services and the price it pays for drugs, is not on the table when it comes to the UK’s future trade deals.”
Labour has argued that the government’s claims that the Trade Bill only applies to EU countries with whom Britain has an existing trade relationship is not true, after a document was produced last December by then party leader Jeremy Corbyn that reportedly contained evidence of trade talks between the Conservative government and the US, suggesting the NHS was on the table for negotiations over medication price hikes.