The leader of Britain’s main opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of secretly negotiating the basis of a trade deal with the United States ahead of the country’s departure with the European Union — including a contentious plan to extend patents for American drug companies.
The Labour Party’s Corbyn waved 451 pages of documents at a press conference Wednesday, declaring that they covered six rounds of negotiations beginning in July 2017 — preliminary soundings ahead of formal trade talks.
With the future of the National Health Service in focus in the Dec. 12 general election, Corbyn highlighted the drug price issue and argued that extending patents would boost the profits of big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of taxpayers who would be barred from buying cheaper generic versions of the drugs.
“We have now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale,” Corbyn said. “He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda and today it has been exposed.”
Johnson has consistently denied Corbyn’s repeated attack line that the NHS is “for sale.” When Corbyn waved a redacted copy of the document during the first television debate, Johnson described Corbyn’s claims as “an absolute invention,” and “completely untrue.”
“We are absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatization,” Johnson told the BBC after the documents were released.
“The NHS is not on the table in any way … in no aspect whatever.”
Responding to the leak of the trade dossier, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss accused Labour of trying to change the subject after days of damaging headlines about Corbyn’s stance on anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
“Jeremy Corbyn is getting desperate and is out-and-out lying to the public about what these documents contain,” she said.
“He has always believed in conspiracy theories — which is why he has failed to crack down on the scourge of anti-Semitism in his party.”
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