Leaked documents from US-UK trade talks show NHS at risk and US pushing for hard Brexit

November 28, 2019: Leaked documents from US-UK trade talks show that the US has been pushing the UK towards a hard Brexit and that the National Health Service (NHS) has not been excluded from trade discussions.

The explosive documents from six roundtable discussions between US and UK trade negotiators cover everything from the UK’s Brexit policy to medicine prices and food standards, e-commerce provisions and the inclusion of ISDS. They confirm many of the concerns raised by civil society organisations in the UK about the social and economic risks of a trade agreement with the Trump administration.

The documents show that the US is pushing the UK towards a hard Brexit, with US trade representatives stating that a “UK commitment to the Customs Union and Single Market would make a UK-U.S. FTA a non-starter.”

The documents also confirm that the US is using trade talks to push the UK to lower its food safety and labelling standards after leaving the EU. US representatives said they were "concerned that labelling food with high sugar content (as has been done with tobacco) is not particularly useful in changing consumer behaviour". In relation to the controversial issue of chlorine-washed chicken, the US offered to "share their public lines on chlorine-washed chicken to help inform the media narrative around the issue." US officials also pushed for provisions that would enable multinational corporations are able to participate in standard-setting.

The papers show that the US proposed that the agreement include Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which enables corporations to sue governments for policy decisions that impact on their investments. They also confirm that, while the US has banned any mention of climate change in the discussions, the UK’s NHS remains on the table and discussions also addressed medicine patents which could lead to an increase in UK medicine prices.

More analysis of the leaked documents is available at: https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/news_article/gjn_leakedusuktradedocsbriefing_nov2019.pdf

The leaked documents are available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/britain-health-service-sale-leaked-trade-docs-suggest-191127102742069.html