Nov 27, 2019

Corbyn accuses Tories of putting NHS "up for sale" in post-Brexit U.S. trade deal

Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the U.K.'s Labour Party, accused Boris Johnson's Conservative Party on Wednesday of putting the country's National Health Service "up for sale" during post-Brexit trade negotiations with the U.S., per the BBC.

Why it matters: Corbyn, facing criticism over accusations of anti-Semitism in his party, is trying to seize the message on a populist topic that plays to his party's strengths before the U.K. heads to the polls in a little more than two weeks.

The big picture: Labour released 451 unredacted pages of documents it said it obtained from six rounds of trade talks between the U.S. and the U.K. that took place between July 2017 and July 2019.

  • While the summaries cover a range of topics from farming to climate change, Corbyn focused on a request from the U.S. involving drug prices — namely, an extension on medical patents that could prevent generic drugs from being used.
  • Corbyn noted that President Trump often cites the low prices paid by foreign countries in his talking points about drug prices, suggesting that acquiescing to U.S. demands could drive up drug prices paid by the NHS.
  • As Axios' Caitlin Owens reported, Trump wants the U.S. to pay less than other countries for some prescription drugs covered by Medicare, which could indeed lead to fewer special deals on drug prices for individual countries.

Yes, but: The documents that Corbyn showcased don't actually show that the U.K. negotiators agreed to anything during the talks with the U.S.

  • Johnson has repeatedly denied that the NHS would be affected after Brexit, tweeting that it "will not be on the table for any trade negotiations."
  • That's a talking point from the Conservative manifesto for the upcoming general election, which adds: "The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table."

The bottom line: As the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg notes, "[W]hether any UK government would ever do a deal that made medicines much more expensive for the NHS, and therefore the taxpayer, which would be massively costly for the government and probably prove deeply unpopular, is a big political question."

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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.