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Donald Trump will demand the NHS pays more for drugs after Brexit, warns outgoing UK ambassador to US

Thomas Colson , Business Insider US
 Jan 31, 2020, 05:00 PM
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: British Ambassador K
British Ambassador Kim Darroch speaks at an Afternoon Tea hosted by the British Embassy to mark the U.S. Presidential Inauguration at The British Embassy on January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
  • Donald Trump will insist the NHS pays more for American drugs after Brexit as the price of any free trade deal, the outgoing British ambassador to Washington has claimed.
  • Kim Darroch said Trump would prioritise the demands of American pharmaceutical firms and farmers, who want more liberal access to UK markets.
  • 'They ... want us to pay the same for American pharmaceuticals as they pay in their own market. Do they want us to pay more for their pharmaceuticals? Do the pharmaceutical companies want to use this leverage? Of course they do," he said.
  • The UK currently caps the price of drugs used by the NHS, which means US pharmaceutical firms have to sell their drugs more cheaply in the UK
  • He said it would be "impossible" for Congress to approve a free trade deal by the end of 2020, the point at which Johnson aims to have wrapped up a deal.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Donald Trump will demand that the NHS pays higher prices for US drugs as part of any trade deal, the departing British ambassador to Washington has said.

Kim Darroch, who announced his resignation in July, said that Trump would put corporate American interests first and reward US farmers and drugs firms who insist that he should seek to open up the UK.

He also suggested it would be difficult for the UK to negotiate free trade deals with the EU and US at the same time, something that Boris Johnson is keen to do to maximise leverage in Brussels.

"I know what the US will be pitching for when they negotiate a free-trade deal with us. They will pitch for massively greater access for agricultural products. People talk about chlorinated chicken - it is a lot more than that. Farmers in America vote for Trump, pretty much all of them vote for Trump," Darroch told the Guardian.

"They also want us to pay the same for American pharmaceuticals as they pay in their own market. Do they want us to pay more for their pharmaceuticals? Do the pharmaceutical companies want to use this leverage? Of course they do," he said.

He said it would be "impossible" for Congress to approve a free trade deal by the end of 2020, the point at which Johnson aims to have wrapped up a deal.

The UK currently caps the price of drugs used by the NHS, which means US pharmaceutical firms have to sell their drugs more cheaply in the UK. Boris Johnson was forced to deny claims by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that the NHS would be "for sale" as part of any trade negotiations with the US.

Darroch resigned in July, just days after diplomatic cables written by him criticising Trump were leaked to a British newspaper. The resignation came a day after the president lashed out on Twitter, describing the ambassador as "wacky" and a "pompous fool."

Darroch denied that the NHS would be "up for sale" but said Trump would simply seek to negotiate a deal that pleased his voters and people who support him.

"He believes in America first. And he believes, particularly, in rewarding people who vote for him and that is American farmers and big American corporations," he said.

Darroch's words came as US secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned that trade talks with the UK would be contentious, particularly over issues like food safety. The US follows lower food safety standards than EU countries but insists its products, which include chlorine-treated chicken, should be allowed into the UK after Brexit.

"There will be real contentious issues around agriculture," Pompeo told LBC Radio on Thursday.

"Our ask will be as it has been in the other negotiations. We need to be open and honest about competitiveness. We need to make sure we don't use food safety as a ruse to try and protect a particular industry."

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