David Cameron gives in to Eurosceptic MPs over TTIP
Downing Street said it would accept an amendment to the Queen's Speech making clear that the TTIP will not allow the back door privatisation of the NHS
David Cameron has given in to Conservative eurosceptic MPs on TTIP to prevent a defeat on the UK Government's plans for the year ahead.
Downing Street said it would accept an amendment to the Queen's Speech making clear that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will not allow the back door privatisation of the NHS.
The controversial TTIP deal, which is still being negotiated, is aimed at making it easier for US firms to gain access to European markets and vice-versa.
In the Commons two weeks ago, the Prime Minister insisted that suggestions it could lead to NHS privatisation was "the reddest of red herrings".
Despite that, more than 25 Tory rebels, backed by the Labour party, tabled an amendment saying they “respectfully regret that a bill to protect the National Health Service from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was not included in the Gracious Speech”.
If it had been passed, it would have been the first time the UK Government had lost a vote on the Queen's Speech since 1924.
The then prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, was subsequently forced to resign.
To head off the revolt, a Downing Street spokesman said: "As we’ve said all along, there is no threat to the NHS from TTIP. So if this amendment is selected, we’ll accept it.”
Tory MP Steve Baker, who was one of the rebels, said: "The Government has today admitted that the EU is a threat to our NHS. The only way we can protect the NHS from TTIP is if we vote Leave on 23 June."
The TTIP agreement is still far from finalised, with French president Francois Hollande indicating he would veto it in its current form.
Leaked negotiating documents also talked about “irreconcilable” differences between EU and US negotiators on issues such as environmental and public health protections.
The EU’s Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, hit out at the coverage of the leaks, calling negative headlines a “storm in a teacup”.
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