LONDON, United Kingdom — Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is threatened by its continued membership of the European Union (EU), Nigel Farage has said.
Speaking at a panel event hosted by betting firm Ladbrokes, the UKIP leader said that British tax payers currently have an “international health service” thanks to EU citizens being able to freely use NHS resources.
“Our relationship with the European Union post the 2004 enlargement means that the National Health Service and the British taxpayer is a massive net loser out of this,” he said, adding that even though 34 per cent of British doctors are from overseas, half of those are already from outside the EU.
He added that the NHS would “benefit massively” if Britain adopted a policy where people who came to the country to work “brought with them their own health insurance”.
“That is something that voters from left and right would vote for in a very big way,” Mr Farage said.
The NHS looks set to become one of the major flashpoints in the forthcoming EU debate.
Last week, a leading barrister warned that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US would lead to private firms being able snap up NHS contracts and would mean future governments would unlikely be able to take parts of the health service back into public hands.
This will likely be of great concern for working class voters and could push members of the political left and trade union movement towards backing Brexit.
Michael Bosher QC, working for the Unite union, wrote: “For the reasons set out in this advice, our conclusion is that TTIP poses a real and serious risk to future UK Government decision-making in respect of the NHS.
“We consider that the solution to the problems which TTIP poses to the NHS – and which is likely to provide the greatest protection – is for the NHS to be excluded from the agreement, by way of a blanket exception contained within the main text of TTIP.”
Speaking tonight, Professor Matthew Goodwin warned that most voters see the NHS as being negatively impacted by Britain’s EU membership. If the ‘Leave’ campaign can make use of this, they could win significant ground.