Nigel Farage has raised fears that the NHS could be privatised if Britain votes to stay in the European Union – even though he personally backs an insurance-based health system run by private companies.
The Ukip leader said the TTIP trade deal between the US and Europe would allow the NHS to be privatised “through the back door”.
Speaking on his weekly phone-in on LBC Radio, Farage said the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, set to be agreed later this year, would “allow giant American corporations to bid for contracts within the National Health Service”.
He added: “There are many people that fear that this could be the privatisation of the National Health Service through the back door. So the trade union movement, who have been fairly uncritical of the EU for the last 25 year or so, are suddenly up in arms about this.”
In 2012 Farage was caught on camera voicing support for an NHS funded “through the marketplace of an insurance company”. The idea was rejected by Ukip, but last year he said political leaders would “have to return” to the debate about funding the NHS through an insurance-based system run by private companies.
Last week legal analysis prepared for the Unite union said TTIP would mean that the privatisation of elements of the NHS could be made irreversible.
Farage did not mention Iain Duncan Smith’s criticism of “scaremongering” by the in campaign, but he echoed the Conservative minister’s argument and some of his language as he accused David Cameron of misleading voters with “lies” and an “apocalyptic vision” of what would happen in the event of Brexit.
“The only thing they haven’t told us is that if we vote to leave a plague of locusts will descend upon the country,” Farage said.
In an article for the Daily Mail on Friday, Duncan Smith said: “In the last fortnight we have had a series of highly questionable dossiers – threatening almost biblical consequences if we dare to consider a future outside of the European Union.”
Farage also repeated his own warning about Turkey joining the EU. He said: “Angela Merkel made it clear that she wants Turkey to be a member of the European Union within five years. Something that David Cameron has been fanatically in favour of since 2005.
“Isn’t that wonderful? A country that is 97% in Asia, not Europe, is coming into our political union. A country whose living standards are even poorer than Romania and Bulgaria, a country with a population of 77 million and growing very rapidly. We are going to go into a system where within a few years every single one of them, if they wish, can come to the United Kingdom. It’s bonkers.”
This article was written by Matthew Weaver, for theguardian.com on Friday 4th March 2016 11.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010