‘David Cameron no longer has a cabinet minister responsible for the controversial trade deal that critics fear could open up the NHS to “irreversible” privatisation.
Ken Clarke oversaw the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations as minister without portfolio. However, the former Tory chancellor was reshuffled out of government in July, with the Prime Minister so far not giving the responsibility to another cabinet minister.
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The deal has attracted controversy due to the apparent secrecy of its negotiations and the fear that the NHS could be opened up to US companies in an “irreversible” privatisation process.
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Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey told the Huffington Post UK: “The fact that Cameron has failed to name a minister responsible for TTIP only adds to the confusion coming from Whitehall. Our call for a clear NHS exemption has been met with a series of contradicting statements and evasive answers.
“First David Cameron claims that there are no exemptions, then EU Trade Commission Karel De Gucht suggests that the NHS may have been exempted. Now civil servants are sending out statements claiming that the NHS was never in TTIP to begin with. It seems the government simply does not know what the world’s largest bilateral trade deal actually covers.
“What is clear is that David Cameron can choose to exempt the NHS if he’s prepared to fight for it. He was prepared to go to Europe to defend bankers’ bonuses; will he act now and insist on an exemption for the NHS, before our local services are permanently sold off to predatory American corporations?” ‘