Comment

Brexit Britain risks swallowing values of Trump’s America

by Luke Lythgoe | 08.02.2018

Limiting the use of antibiotics in farming to stop the spread of “superbugs”. Defending the right to free healthcare for all. On these and many more issues the views of the British public chime far more with our European neighbours. And yet Theresa May’s Brexit is driving us, by way of her desperation for a trade deal with America to make up for lost business with the EU, into Donald Trump’s arms.

One issue is the overuse of antibiotics in American farming. New data shows that US farmers use nine to 16 times more antibiotics rearing cattle, five times more on pigs, and three times more on chickens than [European] farmers.

This leads to the creation of “superbugs”, or antimicrobial resistance. These microbes have rapidly evolved resistance to common medicines, rendering antibiotics useless and making some previously curable diseases fatal. The annual global death toll due to antimicrobial resistance stands at 700,000. Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, has previously warned of a “dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse”.

Currently the UK is part of an EU-wide drive against antimicrobial resistance, amplifying our voice on the world stage. A post-Brexit trade deal with America could see us send out an entirely different message, validating antibiotic overuse and undermining our position. And that’s even without mentioning the chlorine-washed chicken to hormone-pumped beef, both banned from the EU market, which we might be forced to take as part of a Trumpian trade deal.

The NHS is another battleground. Look at the prime minister’s response when asked yesterday by Lib Dem leader Vince Cable whether the NHS would be outside the scope of UK-US trade talks. She couldn’t say, instead blandly insisting she would “get the best possible deal” for the UK.

A prime minister more in tune with the British people would have instinctively defended our health service. May’s ambivalence on the topic leaves the door wide open to American drug companies forcing their way into the NHS.

Last November, US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross warned that any trade deal the UK struck with the EU should “not hinder the development of a closer US-UK relationship” and that Britain should also take steps to remove “unnecessary regulatory divergences” with the US. The Brexiters have put us in such a weak position that they are likely to come panting when Trump shouts “heel”.

Of course, many Americans do share our values. But those people aren’t in the White House. The facts on the ground have changed since the referendum. Then we had a real friend in Washington – Barack Obama. The British people should have the chance to rethink who our real friends are.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “Brexit Britain risks swallowing values of Trump’s America”

  • Good article but suffers from the usual flaw of talking about risks, when what is meant is certainties. Why not say “Brexit Britain would swallow the values of Trump’s America?”

    Risks are an unavoidable part of life, both big and small; if it were only risks we were talking about, we wouldn’t be too bothered. Use of this language is universal unfortunately on the Remain side, we tiptoe about nervously while Brexiters make bold statements .