Here are the five wild claims Jeremy Corbyn made about Boris Johnson and the NHS, and how they were swiftly debunked.
- That under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table in trade talks and will be up for sale
Reality: The trade talk documents only mention the NHS four times in 450 pages, and span meetings which took place before Boris Johnson became PM.
Nowhere does it explicitly say the NHS is on the table in talks – instead it says the US is aware of the “sensitivities with the health sector in the UK” in talks.
In July this year, The Department for International Trade stated: “The NHS will never be privatised, and any future agreements will not change that.”
The Tory Manifesto states: “The NHS is not on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs is not on the table. The services the NHS provides are not on the table.”
- The election is a “fight for the survival of the NHS as a public service free at the point of need”:
Reality: This is a scare story which has been peddled by Labour in the election campaign, but the reality is no trade deal could do this.
As Mark Dayan, a researcher from the health think-tank the Nuffield Trust has said: “A trade deal would not have the power to stop the NHS being a free, universal service.”
- That trade deal could send the cost of NHS drugs soaring by £500million a week by giving US big pharma longer patents on their drugs.
Reality: Jeremy Corbyn claims the document shows the US are pushing for American drugs to have longer patents – a form of copyright which prevent cheaper versions being produced.
He says this would send the price of life-saving drugs soaring. But his claims are one-sided and numbers are overblown. The Government has insisted the price of drugs is not on the table in a trade deal.
Mr Corbyn has taken the £500m figure from a report written by Andrew Hill at Liverpool University.
But Dr Hill has admitted it is a “crude estimate”, and independent experts at the Full Fact website have branded the number “extreme and unrealistic”.
The Labour leader quoted the document, which states the “impact of some patent issues raised on NHS access to generic drugs (ie cheaper drugs) will be a key consideration going forward.”
But No10 said this passage has been wildly misinterpreted, and only showed that officials were flagging up a potential issue.
- That privatisation of the NHS is up for discussions in trade talks:
Reality: The papers only show that the US probed Britain’s position on health insurance, but the UK officials made it clear they wouldn’t “want to discuss particular health entities”.
UK trade officials said they thought the US raised the issue as part of a “fishing expedition” and they do not “believe the US has a major offensive interest in this space”.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted the NHS is not on the table in talks.
- That trade talks between the US and UK are “at a very advanced stage” and on the cusp of doing a deal.
Reality: This is not true. Britain remains in the EU customs union and therefore cannot start official in depth trade talks until we Brexit.
Detailed trade talks can only begin after Britain has left the EU.