Labour accuses Trump of having ‘passing relationship with truth’ on NHS

Labour’s John McDonnell has accused Donald Trump of having a “passing relationship with reality and truth” but he insisted Jeremy Corbyn would work with the US president.

The shadow chancellor said “all the evidence” points to the NHS being on the table during trade talks with the US despite Mr Trump’s denials.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the NHS was not discussed with the US president when the pair met for talks and he described claims about the NHS being used as a bargaining chip as “complete nonsense”.

An alleged plot to “sell off” the public health service to US corporations during a post-Brexit trade deal has been a key message of Labour’s campaign for the December 12 election.

Mr Trump insisted America wants “nothing to do with” the NHS, even if it was “handed to us on a silver platter”, as he arrived in London for the Nato summit.

But Mr McDonnell said on Wednesday that “all the evidence that we’ve seen has demonstrated objectively that it is”, despite the denials of Mr Trump and Mr Johnson.

Speaking during a campaign visit to Birmingham, Mr McDonnell said: “Donald Trump has a passing relationship with reality and truth sometimes.

“I believe in one instance he claimed he didn’t know what the initials NHS stood for.

“So the reality is the evidence is there and the anxiety that we have about the NHS under a Boris Johnson regime and his relationship with Trump causes us extreme concern.”

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson met at the Nato summit being held in the UK (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Johnson said the NHS was not discussed with Mr Trump when the pair met, and asked if they spoke about the NHS, he told broadcasters in Milton Keynes: “I think everybody by now has rumbled all that for the complete nonsense that it is and the answer is no.”

The Prime Minister was earlier pressed about what he thought of Mr Trump personally, to which he replied: “I’ve of course had very good relations with the United States and any UK prime minister is there to ensure we protect the transatlantic partnership.”

Mr Johnson claimed it was “absurd” that others such as Mr Corbyn were “so viscerally hostile to the United States“, adding: “The President of the United States has been supportive of this country when the chips were down.

“When it came to the poisoning of innocent British people in Salisbury in Wiltshire, countries around that table today stepped up to the plate and expelled Russian spies.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has faced criticism over his relationship with Donald Trump (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“At the same time the leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested that we should comply with Moscow’s wishes and send them samples from Salisbury so that they could go through their allegedly impartial tests.

“He took the Moscow line, countries around the table today supported the UK, particularly the President of the United States who stood shoulder to shoulder with us.”

Mr Johnson did not address a question about footage which appeared to show him and other Nato leaders mocking Mr Trump.

A huddle which included the Prime Minister and the Princess Royal was filmed apparently gossiping about the US president’s unorthodox style on Tuesday night, although Mr Trump is not mentioned by name.

Ahead of a Buckingham Palace reception for Nato leaders on Tuesday, Mr Corbyn said he would tell the President that US companies cannot play a role in running the NHS and nor can pharmaceutical costs rise.

But the event passed without the Labour leader getting a chance to confront Mr Trump.

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Labour vowed to end “rip-off Britain” as party research alleges the Tories have cost families nearly £6,000 a year by failing to curb rising bills.

By contrast, Labour says its plans to nationalise key utilities and increase wages will make households nearly £7,000 better off each year if it wins the December 12 election.

The Tories said Labour’s claim it would reduce living costs “defies belief” while accusing the party of standing on a manifesto containing tax hikes for “ordinary hardworking people”.

Mr McDonnell vowed to “abolish poverty” as he highlighted the scale of inequality in the UK during the Birmingham speech, as Labour criticised the Conservatives for creating a “cost-of-living crisis”.