Theresa May has refused to defend the NHS from Donald Trump for the second time this week.
May was given the chance at PMQs to categorically rule out the prospect of US companies getting NHS contracts as part of a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump.
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable asked whether she had made it absolutely clear to the US President that “the NHS is not for sale.”
It should have been the easiest answer she gave all afternoon – of course the NHS won’t be part of a trade deal.
But to everyone’s surprise she left the NHS firmly on the negotiating table:
Is Theresa May going to sell the NHS to Donald Trump? We are none the wiser. @vincecable: Can The PM confirm that in her conversations with President Trump she made clear to him the NHS is not for sale? pic.twitter.com/jK9TOAPOgx
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) February 7, 2018
If you’re giving May the benefit of the doubt, you could say the answer was simply a standard robotic refusal to engage in the substance of questions she’s asked.
But Westminster-based journalists asked the PM’s spokesman to clarify her remarks following PMQs and he also left the door open for negotiations to include the NHS:
Post-#PMQs huddle, No10 refused to add to PM's words re not ruling out NHS being included in US-UK trade deal. "It's very much a hypothetical…We are at the outset of those discussions..We don't yet have an existing position"
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) February 7, 2018
May’s revealing answer is all the more surprising given that it comes just two days after Donald Trump attacked the NHS on Twitter:
The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that May still hasn’t put him right. Today’s question presented the perfect opportunity to do so but she once again chose not to.
As Open Britain spokesman Peter Kyle MP says:
“Nobody voted in the referendum for Britain to go cap in hand to Trump for a trade deal, or for our NHS to be privatised. People have every right to ask whether this is too high a price to pay, and to keep an open mind about Brexit.”
The Tories claimed Brexit would help our NHS, instead they’re letting Trump to help himself to it…