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Henry Smith MP: NHS Scaremongering over trade bill is appalling

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This week the House of Commons voted on the Trade Bill. This legislation is a continuity Bill, and cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements.

Indeed, it is designed to enable those free trade agreements that the EU had signed with other countries before the UK left to be transitioned.

Our NHS is already protected by specific exceptions and reservations in these trade agreements. Some 20 continuity agreements have already been signed, retaining all of these protections for the NHS.

Sadly, but predictably, some have sought to frighten people with cynical fake news into believing those MPs, like me, who supported this Bill voted to sell our NHS to foreign companies, that is simply not the case. Such scare tactics when it comes to our NHS, especially during a global pandemic, are appalling and those involved in misinformation should be ashamed of themselves.

Anyway, international treaties cannot themselves amend domestic legislation and any changes required as a result of trade agreements would be subject to the separate scrutiny and approval of Parliament.

Some of the amendments to the Bill were laid with little other intention than to prompt parliamentary debate on a topic. Unfortunately, the scope of some amendments has been wilfully misinterpreted by some, as is often the case with opposition amendments.

The Government has made an absolute commitment that our NHS will not be on the table in any future trade agreements to which Britain is party.

This was clear in the manifesto which I, and every single other Conservative MP, was elected on at last December’s General Election.

Also earlier this week I met with the Health & Social Care Secretary where we discussed promising developments in securing a COVID-19 vaccine, support for cancer patients and an above inflation pay rise for National Health Service clinicians.

The facts are that record high levels of NHS investment are being made by this Government with some 6,000 extra doctors and 12,000 additional nurses recently recruited.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Brexit and a vaccine

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In his article this week, Crawley MP Henry Smith talks about Brexit and the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

As the UK entered the New Year it did so having finally delivered what Crawley and the country voted for in the Brexit referendum almost half a decade previously.

Last week I voted for the European Union (Future Relationship) Act which allows the British Government to implement and ratify the agreements secured between the UK and the EU.

With no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirements for the UK to continue to follow EU law, and no more payments of billions of pounds to Brussels, we fulfil one of the key aims of Brexit, which is to secure this country’s political and economic independence. This means, of course, that our laws are determined by elected politicians in the United Kingdom who are accountable to the British people.

Britain’s commitment to maintaining high labour, environment and climate standards now ensure we do not give the EU any say over our rules.

In areas such as the living wage, entitlements to sick pay, parental leave and annual leave, UK policy already goes further than EU requirements.

The Future Relationship Act represents the largest free trade agreement in history, not only allowing the UK full access to the EU but also the ability to strike trade deals globally, following recent agreements already signed with countries including Japan, Canada and Turkey.

Looking ahead to 2021; it is welcome that the start of the year has seen the roll-out of the UK-developed University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination.

On Monday the NHS began administering over half a million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with 100 million doses secured in total. This is part of a national vaccination programme alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which has already seen more people inoculated in the UK than the rest of Europe put together. Indeed Great Britain was first globally by several weeks in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.

The Government’s plan to roll out vaccinations as swiftly as possible is well underway, with 1,000 vaccination sites up and running by the end of the week.

With this further welcome news on the vaccine we can see an end to the blight of Covid in sight. These are still challenging times but global Britain will deliver in 2021.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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