Hands off our NHS, protesters to tell Trump
NHS nurses and doctors will lead the march against Donald Trump's visit to Britain on Tuesday 3 December, as concerns about the threat to the NHS from a trade deal with Trump’s USA intensify. In the wake of last week’s leaked papers from US-UK trade talks, thousands of campaigners will brave the cold to protest outside the Buckingham Palace banquet where Trump will dine tomorrow evening. Crowds will be addressed by doctors, climate change campaigners, anti-war activists and musician Brian Eno.
Protestors are eager to express hope, diversity and resistance tomorrow, opposing Trump’s actions and rhetoric on climate change, on migration and on Islamophobia. But the potential danger which Trump represents to British society, especially the NHS, through a post-Brexit trade deal, will be at the forefront of campaigners concerns.
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The protest will start at 4pm on Tuesday 3 December in Trafalgar Sq and march at 5pm on the north side of the Mall to arrive at Canada gate opposite Buckingham Palace at 5.45pm for music and spoken word. Trump will arrive in the UK at 10pm tonight (Tuesday) and arrive with other NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace at 5.15pm tomorrow. On Wednesday, Trump will travel to Watford with other leaders for the NATO Summit.
Why are we protesting?
Donald Trump poses a concrete threat to the NHS through a US-UK trade deal. We will tell him ‘The NHS is not for sale’.
Last week leaked papers from ongoing US-UK trade talks showed that the US administration is interested in accessing parts of the NHS under a future trade deal. This could represent a fundamental threat to the NHS as we know it.
- We know the US is interested in ‘full market access’ to British services, and the British government is keen to encourage this ‘liberalising’ agenda. Services include the NHS.
- Last year over £9bn of NHS contracts were handed to private companies. Privatisation of the NHS has already begun. But a US trade deal could accelerate and lock in this privatisation.
- Under a US trade deal, any attempt to take the NHS back into full public ownership could see the British government being sued in secretive ‘corporate courts’ (investor protection).
- Trump believes Brits are ‘freeloading’ because we have some control over medicine prices. He wants to let big business decide what we pay for our medicines. But US medicines are vastly more expensive than medicines in Britain. If they were to raise to US levels it would cost the NHS up to £500m a week – representing an existential threat to universal healthcare.
A US-UK trade deal would also be bad for food standards, our fight against climate change and for our ability to regulate big business. We will be protesting against this too.
Last week’s papers show that a trade deal with Trump is a threat beyond the NHS too. In particular:
- Trump’s negotiators want access to British markets for food products made to much lower standards than food here in Britain. The US wants to see chicken washed in chlorine, pork stuffed with antibiotics and beef packed with hormones on our supermarket shelves. They don’t even want to allow proper labelling – so we won’t know what we’re eating. This is bad for our health and bad for farmers who will struggle to compete with food made in such poor conditions.
- Trump’s negotiators say that the concept of climate change and greenhouses gas emissions are ‘banned’ from discussion under a US-UK trade deal. That means such a trade deal could massively hamper Britain’s efforts to tackle climate change.
- The trade deal would also prevent important attempts to regulate and tax big business. Trump’s negotiators want special new powers to allow big business to challenge our standards and protections. It would make important policies like banning fracking or introducing a tax on ‘big tech’ companies like Facebook and Amazon, open to legal challenge in special ‘corporate courts’.
- The negotiations show Trump’s officials already bullying the British government. Far from ‘taking back control’, this trade deal would effectively hand over significant power to Trump’s government and US multinational corporations.
Trump is the most divisive US president in living memory. Tomorrow we will tell Trump that we reject his politics of fear and division.
Trump has risen to power on a wave of toxic rhetoric and divisive policies. As leader of the world’s most powerful country he’s empowering the far right across the globe, sowing the seeds of hatred, fear and division which is creating further inequality in society.
- Our coalition consists of people drawn from many of the groups who Trump regularly attacks and marginalises, including Muslims, LGBTQ people, women and migrants. We will not allow Trump’s rhetoric to silence us.
- We want to show our support and solidarity to those groups on the frontline of opposing Trump in the US.
- We understand that many previous US presidents have committed terrible acts of harm in the world, and we have protested those policies in the past. But Trump represents a sharp acceleration of that trend. The combination of the US president’s power, with his explicitly racist politics, his climate change denial and his massive giveaways to the global 1% mean he can be considered the most dangerous person on the planet, fuelling, rather than limiting, the biggest problems humanity faces.
- We also speak for a fairer, more diverse and more equal form of politics – we want to represent hope, as Trump represents fear. We can beat his politics of division.
Dr Sonia Adesara, junior doctor and member of Keep Our NHS Public, said:
"I started a petition during Trump's last visit, following the US ambassador and Trump's claim that of course, the ‘NHS will be on the table’. Recent events have shown our fears to be legitimate and real. The ‘NHS off the table' soundbite won't wash. The government needs to be honest and transparent about what will be on the table and what is at risk. We hope from the protest we send a clear message to Trump and the government; that we will not let our NHS be a pawn in trade deals. Furthermore, we need commitments from the political parties for legislative protections for our NHS in all future trade negotiations."
Nick Dearden, from Global Justice Now, said:
"Last week we discovered just how great a threat Donald Trump is to our NHS. That’s why Tuesday’s demonstration will be led by nurses and doctors – to symbolise the millions of people who will stand up for our health service against a US President who simply represents the biggest, greediest corporate interests in the world. We will make clear that Britain is not for sale. Boris Johnson might be happy to be bullied by Trump, but on Tuesday we will make clear to the world that we are not."
Shaista Aziz, from Stop Trump Coalition, said:
“Trump has already referred to his chum Boris Johnson as ‘Britain’s Trump’, which is why many people will be protesting Trump’s return to Britain on the eve of one of the most important elections in British history. Johnson is following in Trump’s footsteps in making our politics ever more divisive and toxic. We reject Trumpism in Britain and the USA, and we reject Trump’s plans for our NHS and country.”
Dr Tony O'Sullivan, retired paediatrician and Co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said:
"Trump’s presence in London personifies the clear and present danger our NHS faces from a US-UK trade deal. Neither Johnson nor Trump can be trusted. The NHS absolutely is on their table. The US Pharma lobby is salivating over its intended profits. The US Trade Department expects the deal to ‘provide full market access for US products’ and to give US companies an open door to our public services. Johnson will not say no to Trump. Dominic Cummings got it right: ‘Conservatives do not care about poor people or the NHS".
Izzy Warren, an activist with the UK Student Climate Network, said:
“When UK politicians welcome a man like Donald Trump, a notorious climate denier, they ignore the voices of the hundreds of thousands of students in the UK who have been striking for almost a year. Delaying on climate action is just as dangerous as denying it and young people will fight back against both.”