UUP leader Mike Nesbitt has joined the growing campaign to exclude the NHS from a new EU-US treaty which many people fear could lead to the back-door privatisation of the health service.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP), being negotiated between the US government and the European Commission, would help to remove trade barriers to trade between the EU and the US.
But campaigners claim that the treaty is anti-democratic as it is being negotiated in tight secrecy and fear that it could increase the role of US private health companies in the UK.
They also object to the creation of a new quasi-judicial system which will allow corporations to sue governments in secret courts.
Ken Clarke, who as a government minister was responsible for work on the deal, has dismissed concerns as “fantasy conspiracy theories”.
Yesterday Mr Nesbitt said that his party was supporting the People’s NHSni’s campaign to exclude the NHS from the treaty.
He called on the Prime Minister “to make a clear statement to the European Trade Council that the UK will veto TTIP unless the NHS is fully and clearly exempted from the agreement and to use the veto if that exemption is not achieved”.
Chris Hudson of the People’s NHSni said that it has been supported by members of Sinn Fein, Alliance, SDLP, PUP, Ukip, NI21 and the Greens.