NHS and Future Trade Deals — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:00 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade) 5:00 pm, 22nd July 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I thank Mike Hill for introducing the debate and speaking so well on behalf of the petitioners.

Let me start with a reference to Brexit, because I suspect that many of the concerns about trade deals, which may bring the NHS into play, will be driven by the loss of trade associated with Brexit. Let us remind ourselves of what the UK Government’s long-term economic analysis said. Under all the versions of Brexit that they analysed—the White Paper, the European economic area-type agreement, an average free trade agreement, and no deal—trade and GDP would be lower at the end of the forecast period than they otherwise would have been. The analysis went on to say that, under all those options—with the exception of the EEA, which does not apply—the situation would be worse if we had net zero migration from EEA workers. So before I come on to talk about trade, it is worth pointing out that we face a challenge relating to the retention and recruitment of staff if whatever Brexit we end up with drives a hideous and illogical end to the free movement of people.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research’s analysis suggests that, depending on the type of Brexit, we could see a 22% to 30% fall in total trade. It went on to suggest that a free trade agreement with Brazil, Russia, India, China and all the major English-speaking economies, including the USA, would result in an approximately 6% uplift. I suspect that, if Brexit happens, Government thinking will end up being that, in order to make up some of the losses, we will have to have a quick win—a quick gain—probably with the USA. It is hard to see, for a variety of reasons, why the NHS would not be included in that.