British Prime Minister Theresa May's initial failure during Parliamentary Question Time on February 7 to rule out including the country's National Health Service in negotiations for a future trade deal with the United States has unleashed a storm of criticism and concern on social media.
Responding to a question from Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, seeking assurances that the much-beloved NHS was "not for sale," the Prime Minister appeared to avoid the question, focusing instead on the fact that trade talks between Britain and the US were at an early stage.
"We are starting discussions with the American administration, first of all looking at what we can do to increase trade between the US and the United Kingdom already and before the possibility of any free-trade agreement and he (Vince Cable) doesn't know what they're going to say in their requirements for that free-trade agreement. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible for the United Kingdom," Mrs. May said.
Theresa May has again refused to rule out involving the NHS in future trade deals with Donald Trump and the US.— NHS Million (@NHSMillion) February 7, 2018
Please RT if you think everyone should be aware. https://t.co/63QMUPfCdx
Unbelievable!!!— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) February 8, 2018
Theresa May refuses to rule out handing the NHS to Donald Trump in any post-Brexit US/UK trade deal??? You What!!!
Outsourcing privatisation Tory Party Cash Cow.. get these parasites out of office..pic.twitter.com/lvjOtnmv5S
June 2016 — £350 million a week for the NHS!
— The Satire Party 🎭 (@TheSatireParty) February 7, 2018
Feb 2018 — Theresa May refuses to rule out selling the NHS to private US healthcare firms.#PMQs
@Peter_Kirkham Good old privatisation, outsourcing, devolved ‘responsibility’…; it can always be someone else's fault. @theresa_may's get out in the NHS and policing if she can’t do it by very selective use of iffy statistics. https://t.co/WkVHaOLXHe— 🚂Patriotic Cynic🚂 (@oldblackfener) February 8, 2018
The United States is one of the principle sources of a post-Brexit expansion of British trade outside of Europe hoped for by the so-called "Hard Brexiteers."
The US president provoked a similar outpouring of British anger when he tweeted that protests in the UK showed that the country's system of universal health coverage was unpopular and not a model the United States should be emulating. The gaff even earned him a rare rebuke from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who has often been on the receiving end of protests over the management and funding of the NHS.