Jeremy Corbyn today tried to frame next month’s general election as “a fight for the future of our NHS” as he presented documents allegedly proving it is “up for sale” in the government’s post-Brexit trade talks with the United States.
At a news conference in London on Tuesday, the Labour leader presented a 451-page document covering six rounds of government talks with the US between 2017 and earlier this year.
He said the document, which had previously been redecated when presented to Boris Johnson in last week’s ITV leadership debate, proves the US is demanding the NHS is “on the table”.
Mr Corbyn said: “The uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.
“We have now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale.
“This election is now a fight for the future of our NHS.
“We are talking about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit.”
Mr Corbyn’s move comes in a week in which he has faced heavy criticism for his handling of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, as well as his Brexit position.
And leading political scientist Prof Tim Bale said Mr Corbyn’s re-framing attempt could be effective just over two weeks before the election.
Prof Bale told Yahoo News UK: “If you look at polling, the NHS is one of the most important issues for voters. They are against privatisation, and Trump is obviously pretty unpopular.
“If you pull those two together, it could pull apart the whole thing.
“But whether it can distract voters from the car crash interview [with Andrew Neil on the BBC, in which Mr Corbyn refused four times to apologise over the anti-Semitism claims] is another matter.”
Prof Bale went on: “The problem with the anti-Semitism claims is that it makes him look extreme, and shifty. The admission he made on taxation was also pretty damning.”
He added: “Labour’s NHS polling lead over the Conservatives isn’t as big as it once was. The Conservatives have a good job promising money, though whether that will be the case is debatable.”