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    An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London.

    Question-Ducking PM Raises Fears of NHS Sell-Off to US, Provoking Twitter Storm

    © AFP 2019 / Isabel Infantes
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    Donald Trump’s America has emerged as one of Theresa May’s post-EU partners and has expressed interest in gaining access to the country’s universal healthcare system.

    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.

    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.    

    READ MORE: Brits Hit Back At Trump's Rebuke of UK's 'Best in the World' Healthcare System

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    Tags:
    free-trade area, public health, privatization, negotiations, Brexit, National Health Service (NHS), Vince Cable, Jeremy Hunt, Donald Trump, Theresa May, United States, United Kingdom
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