In a tweet on Monday, the US president said: “The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working.”
The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
He made the comments as he targeted Democrats for pushing for a British-style universal health system.
The reference to “thousands of people marching” referred to a protest on Saturday in which supporters of the NHS were demonstrating against cuts to the service.
Organisers immediately hit back at Mr Trump, branding his statement “divisive and incorrect rhetoric”.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also responded, saying he was “proud” of the British system despite the “challenges” it faced.
Mr Hunt added that no one protesting about the state of the NHS wanted a US-style system.
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“NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage – where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance,” he said.
The US president’s comments were also condemned by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the organisers of the demonstration that had been highlighted by Mr Trump.
I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover. NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage – where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance https://t.co/YJsKBAHsw7
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) February 5, 2018
The president’s comments came shortly after former Ukip leader Nigel Farage appeared on one of Mr Trump’s favourite US TV news shows to talk about the NHS.
Mr Farage’s appearance on Fox And Friends seemed to be the reason for Mr Trump’s Twitter comment.
In a follow-up message, the president thanked the show for “exposing the truth”.
Mr Trump’s social media messages came after a crowd of thousands chanting “Save the NHS” descended on Downing Street on Saturday to demand more funding for the health service.
Trump in reality distortion field.
People in the UK march in thousands because they ask for more public funds for the NHS, not for cutbacks. https://t.co/URBDbOrFWz
— Yannis Koutsomitis (@YanniKouts) February 5, 2018
The demonstration, called NHS In Crisis: Fix It Now, was organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together.
Responding to Mr Trump’s comments the groups said they were campaigning against moves to an “expensive, inefficient and unjust” US-style system.
In their message to Mr Trump, the groups said in a statement: “This is what our demonstration was about on Saturday February 3 and tens of thousands of British people want to show their love for the principles of universal and comprehensive care free at the point of use, paid for through general taxation.
“We don’t agree with your divisive and incorrect rhetoric. No thanks.”
Wrong. People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. Healthcare is a human right. https://t.co/Pmo2xYSqZh
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 5, 2018
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Trump was “wrong” and people were marching because “we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it”.
The public row with Mr Hunt is the latest controversial episode in Mr Trump’s presidency ahead of a UK visit later this year which is expected to be marked by mass protests.
He had previously caused consternation in Whitehall when he announced on Twitter he would not be attending the opening of the new US embassy in London, saying it was a “bad deal” and he did not like the location of the new building.
It led to speculation he was unhappy after being rebuked by Mrs May for retweeting videos posted by the far-right Britain First group.
However, following his talks with Mrs May in Davos, Mr Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the “special relationship” with Britain.