Voters in Battleground Seats Call on Cameron to Exclude NHS from US Trade Deal

An overwhelming majority of voters (68%) in thirteen battleground constituencies across the country want to see the NHS safeguarded from a new trade deal which threatens to make privatisation permanent.


If the UK fails to achieve a guaranteed exemption for the NHS, a clear majority of voters want Cameron to use his veto to block the treaty to ensure the NHS is protected.

The deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is being negotiated behind the closed doors of the European Commission, between EU bureaucrats and delegates from the United States. It is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make privatisation irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers. Secret courts would grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.


Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The Tories’ health act of 2012 opened our NHS up to profit making US private firms and a new trade deal threatens to make the sell-off permanent. It’s clear from this poll that the NHS is going to be a major issue at next year’s election.

“The results prove that people firmly oppose the inclusion of the NHS as part of the trade deal. A majority of people even think that Cameron should use Britain’s veto.

“We don’t believe the empty promises coming from the bureaucrats in Brussels but Cameron could act today and protect our health service. David Cameron’s silence is deafening. He is refusing to answer a very simple question. Are we going to exempt health from the EU US trade agreement? Unless he acts the NHS will be at the mercy of US companies and Wall Street investors who will be able to sue the government in secret courts if it tries to reverse privatisation.”

The poll, carried out by Survation, questioned over 2,600 voters across 13 marginal Conservative-held seats. Respondents were asked if the National Health Service should be excluded from the deal and if David Cameron should use Britain’s veto.

Across all constituencies 68% said they opposed the inclusion of the NHS as part of the deal. Opposition was highest from those planning on voting for Labour or UKIP, 78% and 77% respectively, and just 23% of Conservative voters supported inclusion.’

64% said David Cameron should seek to exclude the NHS from the trade agreement altogether, while 54% want the Prime Minister to veto the agreement if necessary in order to safeguard the NHS.

The poll showed a 9 point swing to Labour from the Conservatives across the range of key marginal seats - something that will be worrying news for Tory MPs such as George Eustice, who holds onto Camborne & Redruth by just 66 votes, Dan Byles who has a majority in North Warwickshire of 54, and Jackie Doyle-Price, who holds Thurrock by a mere 92 votes.

Damian Lyons Lowe, Chief Executive of Survation, said: “When the potential implication of this trade deal are put to voters, they are clear that protecting the NHS is of paramount importance, notwithstanding the benefits of a trading partnership. As this poll shows, healthcare is an issue that cuts across political divides and so may prove critical to MPs in marginal constituencies sitting on very small majorities. Should public awareness become widespread, this could, based on our polling, become an electoral liability for David Cameron if he does not heed public concerns.”



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