Donald Trump’s ambassador Woody Johnson called for a deal in comments Labour branded “terrifying” and said put “our NHS up for sale”
Chlorine-washed chicken and US firms’ involvement in British healthcare would be “on the table” for a post-Brexit trade deal, Donald Trump’s ambassador has said.
Woody Johnson, the US Ambassador to the UK, said chlorinated chicken is “as safe as anything in Europe”, adding: “If [people] don’t want it they don’t have to buy it.”
He added “all things that are traded will be on the table” in “the entire economy” – including healthcare – in talks over an US-UK trade deal after Britain leaves.
Under Theresa May , Downing Street has insisted “we will not lower our food standards” and said “the NHS is not for sale and it never will be”.
However, President Trump is now courting Tory leadership hopefuls in the knowledge a new Prime Minister will be in place next month.
Labour attacked the ambassador’s comments as “terrifying” as the US President prepares to make a three-day State Visit to the UK, starting tomorrow.
The EU has strict hygiene standards for poultry when they are alive, while the US washes them with disinfectant, such as chlorine, after they are dead.
That means imports of many US birds are banned from the EU market, a policy Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross branded “not science-based”.
Cabinet ministers have been split in public over the practice, with Trade Secretary Liam Fox saying “there’s been no argument about food safety” despite Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking out against it.
And today Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show “there’s going to have to be some deal” over food in any trade deal.
He said: “There’s going to have to be some deal where you give the British people a choice, and American products would come over and be allowed to come over.
“Agriculture is extremely important to the President, and any President, because there’s agriculture in all 50 states, so there’s 50 Senators.
“But you give the British people a choice. If they like it they can buy it. If they don’t want it they don’t have to buy it.”
He added: “Even the EU has taken a position on things like chlorinated chicken and said the American food supply is as safe as anything in Europe.
“I don’t think [the British people] have to accept it. Once again, you can have a choice.
“We have five million Brits, British people, coming over to the US every year and I’ve never heard a complaint, one complaint about anything to do with chicken.”
Asked if US pharmaceutical and healthcare firms could get work in the NHS as part of a deal, Mr Johnson said: “Oh I don’t think they’d be put in any particular position regarding that.
“Your national healthcare service is the pride of the country. It’s a highly emotionally charged issue.”
But asked if healthcare has to be part of a trade deal, he then added: “I think probably the entire economy, in a trade deal all things that are traded will be on the table.”
Asked if that included healthcare he replied: “I would think so.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “The ambassador’s comments are terrifying, and show that a real consequence of a no deal Brexit , followed by a trade deal with Trump, will be our NHS up for sale.
“This absolutely should not be on the table.
“Nigel Farage and the Tories want to rip apart our publicly funded and provided NHS. Labour will always defend it.”
It comes after Donald Trump said Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” Prime Minister.
The President also urged the UK to make Nigel Farage a negotiator and crash out with no deal if necessary.
Mr Johnson said Trump’s decision to endorse Johnson as Tory leader was due to their personal relationship.
Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “He’s known Boris Johnson for a long time and what he’s commenting on is his knowledge of Boris Johnson as a person.”
When asked whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal, he said: “We’re going to have a great relationship with your country whatever happens.”
Mr Johnson said the US was already looking at all the elements of a trade deal “to get everything lined up so when the time comes, we’re ready”.
The first day of Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK will see him have a private lunch with the Queen, tea at Clarence House with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
With many thanks to the: Irish Daily Mirror and Dan Bloom (online Political Editor) for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-trade-deal-theresa-may-us-uk-eu-chlorine-chicken-food-safety-standards-poll-a8292496.html