We have no in­ter­est in the NHS, says Trump

US pres­i­dent in­sists health ser­vice would not be on the ta­ble in trade talks as he meets Boris Johnson

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Anna Mikhailova, Gor­don Rayner and Henry Bod­kin

DON­ALD TRUMP said he wanted “noth­ing to do” with the NHS as he dis­missed claims by Labour that the health ser­vice could be for sale in a post-brexit trade deal.

The US pres­i­dent said the NHS would not be on the ta­ble dur­ing USUK trade talks even if “you handed it to us on a sil­ver plat­ter”.

It came as the Krem­lin fu­elled the grow­ing row around leaked govern­ment min­utes of trade talks pub­lished by Labour as it failed to deny the in­volve­ment of Rus­sian hack­ers.

As Mr Trump held meet­ings ahead of to­day’s 70th an­niver­sary Nato sum­mit, he also in­sisted he would “stay out” of the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign, only to add that Boris Johnson was “very ca­pa­ble” and would do “a good job”.

Mr Johnson spent most of the day steer­ing clear of Mr Trump in or­der to avoid giv­ing Labour the chance to crit­i­cise him over his re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent. But the two met at Buck­ing­ham Palace last night be­fore Mr Trump and other Nato lead­ers at­tended a Down­ing Street re­cep­tion.

Mr Johnson was so keen to min­imise the num­ber of pho­to­graphs of him­self with Mr Trump that he left the pres­i­dent and his wife Me­la­nia in the cold out­side No10 when they ar­rived.

Mr Johnson in­sisted he would press ahead with a dig­i­tal ser­vices tax if the Tories were re-elected, de­spite the threat of Mr Trump im­pos­ing tar­iffs on Bri­tish goods, as he did with the French. Mr Johnson said he “de­plores” trade wars in a state­ment in­ter­preted as a de­fi­ant mes­sage to Mr Trump.

Mr Trump, mean­while, gave Mr Johnson an un­ex­pected boost by deny­ing Labour claims that the NHS would be on the ta­ble in post-brexit trade talks. Asked if the NHS should be in­cluded in the talks, Mr Trump replied: “No, not at all, I have noth­ing to do with it. Never even thought about it, hon­estly. I don’t even know where that ru­mour started. We wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a sil­ver plat­ter.”

Quot­ing Mr Trump’s com­ments, Matt Han­cock, the Health Sec­re­tary, said: “That’s set­tled then.”

Mean­while, Mr Johnson, cam­paign­ing in Sal­is­bury, said he could “cat­e­gor­i­cally rule out” that “any part of the NHS will be on the ta­ble in any trade ne­go­ti­a­tions”, adding that this in­cluded phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Jeremy Cor­byn wrote to Mr Trump de­mand­ing “ur­gent clar­ity” over whether the NHS was “gen­uinely off the ta­ble” and re­as­sur­ances that a trade deal would not open up the health ser­vice to “ir­re­versible pri­vati­sa­tion”. Mr Cor­byn said he would con­front the pres­i­dent over the is­sue if he got the chance at the Palace, but did not do so.

Mr Johnson said yes­ter­day that Mr Trump’s in­creas­ing use of tar­iffs against for­eign coun­tries would not pre­vent him in­tro­duc­ing a dig­i­tal ser­vices tax of 2 per cent on com­pa­nies that trade in the UK. Mr Trump threat­ened tar­iffs of up to 100 per cent on French goods af­ter it im­posed a dig­i­tal tax of 3 per cent on US in­ter­net gi­ants.

Asked if he was wor­ried about re­tal­i­a­tion, Mr Johnson said: “Ob­vi­ously I de­plore, I don’t think trade wars are a good thing. I do think we need to look at the oper­a­tion of the big dig­i­tal com­pa­nies and the huge rev­enues they have in this coun­try and the amount of tax that they pay. They need to make a fairer con­tri­bu­tion.”

Se­nior MPS called for an ur­gent Cabi­net Of­fice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how Labour ob­tained clas­si­fied min­utes of US-UK trade talks amid grow­ing ev­i­dence link­ing the leak to Mos­cow.

Iain Dun­can Smith, the for­mer Tory leader, said: “We must get to the bot­tom of this. If there is any pos­si­bil­ity of

Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in this process that needs to come out, and there is no ques­tion in my mind that the Cabi­net Of­fice needs to look at this very quickly.”

Mr Cor­byn hinted that he had down­loaded the min­utes from a web­site on which in­ves­ti­ga­tors in­creas­ingly be­lieve it had been placed by Rus­sia.

Dmitry Peskov, a Krem­lin spokesman, said it was “not pos­si­ble to com­ment se­ri­ously” on al­le­ga­tions that Rus­sian hack­ers ob­tained the doc­u­ments and put them on­line, but he stopped short of is­su­ing a de­nial. He said: “It’s very con­ve­nient to cover up one’s own headache, and to use this fetish to frighten peo­ple with Rus­sian hack­ers.”

The Cabi­net Of­fice re­fused to dis­close whether an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way. A spokesman said: “We do not com­ment on leaks.”

Don­ald Trump and his wife Me­la­nia had to make their own way in to No 10 for a Nato re­cep­tion as Boris Johnson avoided be­ing pho­tographed with the pres­i­dent

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