I have been contacted about concerns regarding future trade deals, food standards and the protection of the NHS.
Free trade drives economic growth. It raises incomes, creates jobs and lifts people out of poverty and now we are outside the European Union, this country will be able to strike new trade agreements with countries across the globe. But more trade should not compromise the high levels of quality and protection enjoyed in our country.
I cherish our National Health Service and the principles it holds itself to in that it is universal and free at the point of need. The Government has been repeatedly clear that our NHS will never be on the table in any trade agreements and I wholly support the Government in their stance. The UK will continue to ensure that the NHS is protected in all trade agreements it is a party to, whether transitioned from an EU context or as a result of new negotiations. Indeed, outside of the EU, rigorous protections for our NHS will be maintained and included in any future trade agreement which our country is a party.
I want to be absolutely clear, in particular with regards to a future trade agreement with the US. The NHS will be protected in any future agreement with the US. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table and nor will the services the NHS provides. I hope this is of reassurance to you and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.
Regarding concerns over food standards, I asked the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that UK food standards will not be lowered as part of future trade deals.
The minister’s response was as follows: ‘HM Government has made it clear that any future trade deals must work for British consumers, farmers and companies. We are proud of our high standards in food safety and these will not be weakened. High standards and high quality are what our domestic and global customers demand, and that is what we will provide. It is vital that we explore new trading opportunities, but these should not mean a dilution of the standards for which British food is world-renowned. The EU Withdrawal Act transfers all existing EU food safety provisions on to the statute book and we remain firmly committed to upholding our high food safety standards’
The manifesto I stood on was clear that in all trade negotiations, our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards will not be compromised. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.