Johnson to tell Trump: hands off NHS
BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he'll tell US President Donald Trump that the UK's state-funded health service will be off the table in any future trade negotiations.
He's also said the US will have to open its markets to British goods if it wants to make a deal.
Johnson said he would draw his red lines for the protectionist president when the two leaders meet this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Johnson arrived at the global gathering on Monday with a balancing act to do.
He's trying to persuade European Union leaders to strike an elusive divorce deal with Britain, while also laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United States - seen by the government as one of the main prizes of Brexit.
The Conservative prime minister is keen to forge a strong relationship with the Republican president, who has called the British leader "a really good man."
But Johnson told reporters flying with him to New York that he would tell Trump "that when we do a free trade deal, we must take sure that the (National Health Service) is not on the table, that we do not in any way prejudice or jeopardise our standards on animal welfare and food hygiene in the course of that deal, and that we open up American markets."
Opponents of Brexit fear the NHS - an overstretched but much-loved institution founded in 1948 to provide free health care to all Britons - will be opened up to private US firms as part of trade negotiations.
They also have suggested Britain may have to accept chlorine-washed chicken, a US poultry industry practice that is banned in the European Union.
Johnson is likely to be dogged by Britain's divisive - and stalled - departure from the EU throughout his three-day trip to the UN's annual gathering of world leaders.
More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the departure date has been postponed twice, and the UK parliament has repeatedly rejected the only divorce deal offered.
The country is facing a chaotic exit on October 31 unless Johnson's government can, against the odds, secure a new agreement - or arrange another delay, something Johnson vows he will not do.