The Labour Party pushed hard on Wednesday on the alleged risks to the NHS revealed in the leaked papers detailing preliminary U.K.-U.S. trade talks, claiming the documents suggest the Tory government is ready to sell off its health service and change its drug patent rules.
David Tinline, a former senior adviser to World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo, warned against over-interpreting the contents of the preliminary discussions. “I dont think it is really a surprise that these issues would have been raised and that doesnt mean theyre going to be taken any further,” he said.
However, he added that its only once the U.K.s strategic priorities are spelled out, “you can get a sense of the rough shape that the deal might begin to take.”
With that in mind, there are other nuggets in the documents on the talks that sparked interest.
The U.S. negotiators were interested to know whether the U.K. might diverge from EU standards on food production. It was agreed that the U.K. would “share their public lines on chlorine-washed chicken to help inform the media narrative around the issue.” A U.S. official noted that the U.K. had used chemical washes in the past and “wondered if there would be an interest in bringing them back post-EU Exit.”
Overall, the U.S. made clear it would be watching the U.K. negotiations on a trade deal with the EU closely, especially when it comes to signing up to regulations imposed by Brussels.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBCs “Today” program this morning that Britain will ditch EU standards after Brexit — but only to make them “stronger.” The Conservative Party manifesto insists the U.K. “will not compromise our high food standards.”
The U.S. also suggested the U.K. could water down its standards on food labeling, which compel manufacturers to be clear about whether products are high in sugar or fat. The documents note U.S. concern that “labelling food with high sugar content (as has been done with tobacco) is not particularly useful in changing consumer behaviour.”
On tech, U.S. officials did not raise the issue of the U.K. governments tax on digital services. One of the leaked documents said: “The U.K.s digital tax wasnRead More – Source