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Even in Tory Heartlands Voters Have Spoken: Cameron Must Veto the NHS From TTIP

22/12/2014 17:17 | Updated 21 February 2015

David Cameron used last week's EU Council Summit to desperately shore up support for TTIP, the rapidly crumbling EU-US trade deal. The threat this deal poses to our NHS has left Cameron's Coalition facing overwhelming public opposition. This latest defence of the indefensible not only leaves the Prime Minister politically isolated, polling reveals that he has cut himself adrift from voters in his own constituency.

This is not the first time the prime minister has used an international summit to back the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which threatens to make the sell-off of our NHS irreversible. Speaking at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Cameron vowed to put 'rocket boosters' under the talks.

Now over 80% of voters on his home patch are telling him that if he is going to come out fighting, it should be to use his veto to ensure the NHS is exempted from this secretive trade deal.

Coalition ministers and peers have dutifully lined up to champion the deal, shamelessly claiming that it won't allow American private firms to carve our NHS. Naturally, the spinners are completely swerving the charge!

The Tories' hated Health and Social Care Act has already allowed such firms in, with up to £13billion worth of services falling into private hands since 2012. TTIP now threatens to finish the job, by making this sell-off irreversible.

TTIP is being negotiated behind closed doors, between EU bureaucrats and delegates from the United States. What we do know is that the deal could allow firms with American investors - and that includes the hedge funds with vast stakes in the private health industry - to sue the government if sold-off health services were ever taken back into public ownership.

The result would be a chilling effect, leaving the government powerless to legislate on healthcare. From Slovakia to Australia elected governments have already found themselves facing down the barrel of billion dollar lawsuits enabled by such deals.

Yet, instead of defending the NHS from such an unprecedented threat, David Cameron continues to promote TTIP, giving primacy to the interests of US corporations over the will of the people of this country.

Lest there be any doubt, even voters in true blue Tory heartlands have clearly demonstrated their opposition. Polling carried out by Survation on behalf of Unite in 17 constituencies has consistently revealed overwhelming opposition to the inclusion of the NHS in this trade deal.

In Witney, Cameron's own seat and the home of his 'Chipping Norton Set', 82% want the NHS out of TTIP. Similarly, 80% want the NHS excluded in health secretary Jeremy Hunt's home patch of South West Surrey.

From Stockton South, to Rochester and Strood, voters across the political spectrum are united in the belief that it's wrong for the NHS to be part of an American trade deal. It's time for the Prime Minister to listen.

By using Britain's veto it is entirely within David Cameron's power to act. The French have done it by protecting their film industry. The Government has failed to give one decent reason why the NHS should be in this trade deal.

Every political party across the UK's devolved nations now opposes the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP. The Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators stand alone. Following Cameron's lead, Jeremy Hunt, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have all told us there is no threat to the NHS from TTIP.

Yet, with their collective track record of false promises, who in their right mind would believe them? They continue to deny the NHS is being sold-off. Let them tell that to the Nottingham doctors, who would rather resign than see their dermatology service handed over to the profiteers of Circle. Let them tell it to the 29,000 people who have placed signs outside their homes calling for Cameron and Hunt to stop the sell-off.

Britain won't be fooled by vague assurances over the NHS. The only way to ensure our NHS is protected from this trade deal is to remove it from these talks entirely. It's time for the Prime Minister to show some backbone. Cameron must use his veto and exempt the NHS from this deal. Otherwise history will record that it was his government who handed our hospitals to Wall Street forever.

The full Survation polling on behalf of Unite can be seen here