East Worthing and Shoreham MP defends voting against protecting NHS from trade talks

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton has defended voting against measures to protect the NHS from being included in trade deals.

On Monday (July 20), MPs voted to reject a Labour-backed amendment to the post-Brexit trade bill ‘intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services’ from ‘any form of control from outside the UK’.

The amendment was rejected as 336 Conservative MPs, including Mr Loughton, voted against it in a move that appeared to fly in the face of Boris Johnson’s election pledge that the NHS would not be on the table during trade talks once the UK leaves the EU.

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Mr Loughton accused the opposition of playing games.

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“As usual this vote was on a Labour amendment designed simply to play politics and re-run the discredited old slogan about ‘wicked Tories wanting to privatise the NHS’,” he said.

“I would never support that – as I have said constantly until I am blue in the face – but Labour have never been much concerned with the facts when they can repeat slurs infinitum. As I know from spending many nights outside Worthing Hospital over the last four months, NHS staff really appreciate the support they have received from this government.”

Mr Loughton said the NHS was protected by ‘specific carve outs, exceptions and reservations’ in EU trade agreements, that his ministerial colleagues did not plan to alter when agreements become between the UK and EU.

“The NHS will also be protected in any future trade agreement,” he said.

“The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table, and nor will the services the NHS provides – as per our Manifesto promise which stated ‘when we are negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table’.

“UK law offers protections for the NHS and any changes would have to come before Parliament in order to be implemented.”

MPs, including Mr Loughton, also rejected an amendment ensuring farmed goods meet current UK standards on animal welfare, the environment, food safety and other standards.