It is possible the Government could be defeated on the Queen’s speech as a result of an amendment tabled by Paula Sherriff, the Labour MP for Dewsbury, and former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley. It already has backing from Labour, Conservative and SNP MPs.
TORY EU rebels are upping the ante against David Cameron and are set to join forces with Labour and the SNP, raising the prospect that the Government could be defeated on the Queen’s Speech.
The amendment, expresses regret that the Government has not included a bill that would “protect the National Health Service from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP).
TTIP is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations.
Opponents of TTIP argue that it will allow private American firms to bid for lucrative contracts in the health service, thus leading the way to full-scale privatisation.
Mr Lilley said: “I support free trade but TTIP introduces special courts, which are not necessary for free trade, will give American multinationals the right to sue our government (but not vice versa) and could put our NHS at risk. I cannot understand why the Government has not tried to exclude the NHS.”
The Prime Minister’s working majority is just 17, which means the Government could be defeated if it loses the support of nine Conservatives and all opposition parties vote against the Speech.
Vote Leave sources have pointed out that the last time the Government lost a vote on the Queen’s Speech was in 1924, which led to the resignation of the then Tory premier Stanley Baldwin.
Jeremy Corbyn, asked if Labour would be backing the TTIP amendment, said: “Yes we will be backing that.”
Unison’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail urged all MPs to back the amendment stating that “Legal advice from a top QC shows that the NHS is at ‘serious risk’ from TTIP. This threat has become a real issue in the EU referendum debate”.
“The amendment gives MPs a unique opportunity to neutralise the NHS as an EU referendum issue and to protect our health service from irreversible privatisation. This is a chance that the UK cannot afford to miss. Once TTIP is signed, the UK will be locked into the deal for two decades”.
“The UK will lose its sovereignty to make important decisions on health and you can say goodbye to the NHS as we know it.”
Asked about the amendment, a No 10 spokesman stressed that he had not seen it but insisted the NHS was “completely protected” under TTIP. “That’s been made very clear by the European commissioner for trade, who said: ‘Member states do not have to open public health services to competition from private providers nor do they have to outsource services to private providers.’ The US negotiator has also agreed with that position and said it will not require governments to privatise any service.”
He quoted the Prime Minister as saying the claim that TTIP threatened the NHS as “’the reddest of red herrings’”. Judging from the backing for the amendment it is evident that the majority of MPs do not believe him.
If we vote to leave the EU on the 23rd June TTIP will never be an issue for the UK.
VOTE TO LEAVE ON 23rd JUNE
It was reported tonight 19/5/16 that a No 10 spokesman said “if the amendment is selected, we’ll accept it”.
We don’t think the government has any choice in the matter if they are to avoid defeat.