After backlash, Trump U-turns on UK health service in trade talks

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump backtracked on comments that Britains public health service should be on the table in future post-Brexit trade talks between the two countries, after Prime Minister Theresa May said some areas might be off-limits.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a joint news conference with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (not pictured) in London, Britain, June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The National Health Service (NHS) is a cherished institution for many Britons. Created after World War Two, it provides a wide range of services ranging from routine consultations to life-saving operations.

“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table,” Trump told reporters during a visit to London. “So NHS or anything else, or a lot more than that. But everything will be on the table, absolutely.”

Later, however, he said that while nothing would be off the table in talks, he did not see the NHS as falling under the realm of trade.

“I dont see it being on the table. Somebody asked me a question today and I say everything is up for negotiation, because everything is,” Trump said in an interview broadcast on ITV News.

“Thats something that I would not consider part of trade. Thats not trade.”

May had earlier suggested that the health service might be off-limits.

“The point about making trade deals of course is that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future,” she said at the news conference

Britains health minister, Matt Hancock, also made clear that he would not countenance the NHS being part of trade talks.

“Dear Mr President. The NHS isnt on the table in trade talks – and never will be. Not on my watch,” Hancock, who is a contender to replace May as prime minister, said on Twitter.

The opposition Labour Party has focussed on fears among voters that the NHS might be privatised as it tries to capitalise on the Brexit crisis within MayRead More – Source