Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to confront US President Donald Trump during a NATO reception on Tuesday over concerns about the future of the UK's National Health Service (NHS).
While speaking with BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine, Mr Corbyn said he planned to challenge the president over alleged plans to privatise the NHS as part of a future UK-US trade deal during the reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening.
During the interview he said he would tell Mr Trump:
''Welcome to this country. I hope you'll understand how precious our national health service is, and in any future trade relationship with the USA, none of our public services are on the table, none of our public services are for sale and investor state protection is not acceptable to our government when we've won this election."
If Trump agrees, Corbyn said he would “say thank you very much, I assume that will be the basis of your administration's talks with our department of trade.”
When asked why he would not be boycotting the event, as he refused to attend the dinner at Buckingham Palace during the president's state visit in June, he said:
“I didn't go to the banquet because we were not in favour of a state visit. This is a visit because of the NATO summit that's taking place, that's absolutely fair enough."
“I have met President Obama when he came and I met President Obama for a long discussion privately actually, which was fascinating," he added.
Mr Corbyn wrote to Trump urging him to guarantee that the NHS will not form part of a trade deal, which came after another letter by 500 NHS workers who are demanding that Trump take the NHS "off the table completely" during trade talks.
Corbyn questioned a statement by President Trump who this morning rejected accusations that NHS would be available for purchase during trade negotiations saying he wouldn't want it even if it was offered up on a "silver platter."
“I’m pleased that he's said that, but if that's the case why have these talks gone on for two years? Why have they been kept secret?", Mr Corbyn said.
UK government documents revealed by the Labour leader last week indicated that the US was pushing for UK public services to be opened up to "full market access" following Brexit.
This evening will mark the first meeting between the US President and the Labour leader.
He has been criticising Boris Johnson for being the worlds leading sycophant on Tuesday, saying it was “time for Britain to stop clinging on to Donald Trump’s coat-tails” and that there was a need to make “foreign policy free from a knee-jerk subservience to a US administration which repudiates our values.”
Mr Corbyn is known for consistent scepticism towards US and UK foreign policy, even under Labour and Democratic governments respectively.
He was an ardent opponent of the US-led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration but also voted against the 2011 intervention in Libya under Barack Obama.
— Stop the War (@STWuk) February 15, 2019
Despite pledging to maintain GDP spending in line with NATO targets and to renew the UK's Trident nuclear program in the Labour manifesto, Corbyn has historically been a vocal critic of the alliance and a supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament.
If Corbyn were to win the election on 12 December, it would be seen as an unprecedented moment for the UK, with an avid anti-war campaigner becoming Prime Minister of one of the worlds strongest and most assertive military powers.