Why the (True) Price of Brexit will be the NHS – and more

Published on December 11, 2019

We are one day from decision day. The stakes have never been higher. This is what a victory for the Tories tomorrow will mean. Please circulate this widely - and above all - persuade somebody that a vote for Johnson will not "Get Brexit Done". Andy Pye, L4E Secretary makes a final plea.

About a week ago, I circulated on social media an article by Umair Haque entitled Why Brits are About to Discover the Brutality of American Capitalism, the Hard Way (Or, You Can Have Brexit or the NHS — But Not Both).

This article was shared by hundreds of people and it hit home with many. Essentially, the message of the article is:

  • Brits are not self-sufficient in essentials, so we have to import them from somewhere.
  • If that is not the EU, the only viable alternative is the US.
  • The US knows this and the price is the NHS

Even if Johnson genuinely believes that the NHS is not on the table - and that's a big if, considering that British officials are already off, cap in hand, doing secret trade talks with America’s Department of Trade - the Americans are drooling at the prospect of the money to be made from a new market for their health care "system".

John Rentoul, writing in The Independent, agrees: even though the US president said he wouldn’t want the health service to be included in trade talks if it were offered ‘on a silver platter’, he believes that Trump is lying. If Johnson wins, America expects to drain it for profit.

Dr Joe Pavak, tweeted this week that "as an NHS governor, and previously director of education for a national disability charity, before that of a local authority, and also ex-head, it’s my public duty to say our public services can’t withstand another 5 minutes of the Tories. All these services are at breaking point."

Haque's article goes on to explain the brutality of the US system - the price of American healthcare is just that - the price. Haque says "Want a minor operation? That will be $100K, please. Need a hospital stay for a few days? That’ll be $50K, thank you."

He sees a position where private clinics and ‘healthcare networks’, owned by American hedge funds, come to slowly enter and then dominate the UK, and the NHS shrinks, slowly, offering less and less care, services, operating fewer and fewer hospitals and surgeries, until it atrophies to vanishing point.

Where this leads in America is spelled out in stark terms: "Half of Americans struggle to pay basic bills. And when they can’t, they’re simply abandoned. If they get sick, they die. If they lose their jobs, they are on the streets. If they can’t afford to pay the bills, they lose everything they have. Life is a brutal battle in America — and the stakes are life and death."

The message is repeated in Sweet Talkin' No'90, the newsletter circulated by Brixton activist Pete Morgan. He cites a YouTube video in which Britons expressed incredulity and shock at the high cost of healthcare in the United States and thanked the UK’s publicly funded and administered NHS for sparing the country's people such exorbitant prices.

"So, if you're poor, you're dead," one young woman tells the interviewer after hearing an asthma inhaler in the for-profit US system costs between $250 and $300.

Two different men appear shocked when told Americans can be charged $2,500 for an ambulance ride. "For real?" one asks. "Why?" asks another.

"Brits can't fathom the barbarity of America's healthcare system," tweeted progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon. "But....they'll find out once the NHS is sold off to America's healthcare vultures."

"The cost of American healthcare is literally unimaginable to most British people." tweeted historian David Walsh. “Watch These Brits Gasp When They Find Out Cost of Healthcare in the United States.”

And yet, even this isn't the limit of the potential disaster that befalls us. Well-known Twitter anti-Brexit commentator Steve Bullock lays out another stark message.

"Avoiding [a Tory Majority] may be the most important thing we collectively ever do, and failing to avoid it would be an error to echo in history.

"Brexit won't be even nearly the worst of it. It would mean the victory of the populist project, open season on all minorities and disadvantaged, and confirmation and encouragement to far-right racists & xenophobes that they are the winners and were right all along.

"Forget rejoining the EU or mitigating all this. A Johnson majority will mean they get to do (virtually) whatever the hell they want to us for 5 years, and much of it will not be reversible.

"Nobody is coming to save us. There are not some adults watching from outside the playpen to intervene if things go too far. This is it."

Do people who voted to Leave the benign environment of the EU really understand what they voted for? It's in the hands of voters to stop it, and they must. We must.

If you think that this is a price too great to pay to "Get Brexit Done" please share this widely – and do so TODAY. Tomorrow is Groundhog Day.

Andy Pye
Secretary, London4Europe

London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.

Help us put Europe on the political agenda before the general election