Nearly seven out of 10 voters in key constituencies believe the NHS should be excluded from a deal between the EU and America which threatens to make privatisation permanent, by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers.
If Britain fails to win its exclusion from the trade agreement, most voters (54 per cent) want the prime minister to veto it to ensure our health service is protected.
The so-called transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) is being negotiated behind closed doors by EU and American bureaucrats. It is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and will be backed by international law, policed by secret courts.
So unless the British government intervenes, these secret courts would grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.
Unite is already deeply concerned that under the existing health and social care act, brought in last year by the Coalition, the NHS is being dismembered by the private sector, including American companies. The treaty would lock in the privatisation process by giving the private sector a greater security of tenure and make existing privatisation permanent. According to the Financial Times, around £5.8bn of NHS work is currently being advertised to the private sector, a 14 per cent increase on last year.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the poll of voters showed that the NHS would be one of the main issues in next year’s general election. “We don’t believe the empty promises coming from the bureaucrats in Brussels but Cameron could act today and protect our health service. David Cameron’s silence is deafening. He is refusing to answer a very simple question. Are we going to exempt health from the EU US trade agreement.”
The poll, carried out by Survation, questioned over 2,600 voters across 13 marginal Conservative-held seats. The survey showed a nine point swing to Labour from the Tories in the battleground seats. They include Camborne and Redruth which George Eustice won by just 66 votes, North Warwickshire won by Dan Byles with a 54 vote majority and Thurrock, won by Jackie Doyle-Price by a mere 92 votes.