The National:


“Despite the SNP’s scaremongering, neither chlorinated chicken nor our NHS is going on the negotiating table” – Tory MP Andrew Bowie, Times, March 2


THE US farmers’ association has already said it will get Congress to veto a trade deal with Britain unless we accept US food standards, including chlorinated chicken. And leaked UK Government documents show that US pharmaceutical bodies are already in discussion with the Department of Trade and Industry for the NHS to pay higher prices for American drugs.


The National:

BOWIE (above) was elected for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine in 2017 and only scraped back in 2019. He was a junior naval officer but had to leave after he failed his navigation exams. He was parliamentary private secretary to Theresa May, which may explain his current lack of preferment under Boris.

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THE UK Department for Trade and Industry has published a paper outlining the UK’s negotiating stance regarding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. Bowie’s Times article is a puff for this piece of propaganda.

The document makes specific claims: “Scotland is expected to be one of the parts of the UK to benefit most. An FTA could bolster existing trade in Scottish salmon and Scotch whisky, while lowering tariffs on cashmere and clothing, and high quality meat”. But this FTA will also “uphold the UK’s high levels of public, animal, and plant health, including food safety”. Also, the UK will “protect the right to regulate public services, including the NHS”.

All these points are aspirations. However, if there is to be an FTA with Trump, the UK must give up something. What do the Americans want?


US trade deals are negotiated by an agency called The Office of the United States Trade Representative. The head of the USTR is Robert Lighthizer (below), a career corporate lawyer and Washington lobbyist who was appointed by Donald Trump in 2017. His official biography describes him as a “well-known advocate for the type of ‘America First’ trade policies of President Trump”.

The National:

In November 2019, details were leaked to the media of on-going talks between the UK Government and Lighthizer’s USTR. The 451-page document, prepared by the UK Department for International Trade, contains a record of discussions that have taken place between British and American officials over a future FTA. These papers are available on the Global Justice Now website.

The leaked minutes of these UK-USTR meetings prove without doubt that the US negotiators reject each and every one of the positions proposed by the new Conservatives, supposedly defending British (and Scottish) interests.

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On the NHS, the minutes show that controlled British medicine prices were a key area under discussion. US negotiators indicated that American companies want any FTA to enshrine their monopoly pricing of new “biologic” medicines – an advanced class of drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases and cancers. This could massively increase the cost of medicines for the NHS in future years. The leaked minutes also show that negotiating sessions were followed by “stakeholder meetings” in which UK representatives were lobbied directly by American business groups, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Association for Accessible Medicines.

The minutes indicate the US starting point in negotiations will be to demand the entire UK service sector be open to American corporations unless specific exceptions are made. This is known as a “negative list” approach, where everything is on the table unless it is specifically taken off. Certainly, the UK could try and exempt the entire NHS as a bloc. However, it is likely the US will counter by demanding the health sector is split up into multiple areas, and bargain over which elements are exempted or not, e.g. drug supply, contracts for operations, ambulance services, etc.

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So much for Bowie and the Tory’s assurances that the NHS is not included in any FTA negotiations. It has already started.

The National:

On food safety, the leaked minutes reveal US representatives arguing that the “UK’s decision to attempt to align with the EU on Agri-food and SPS [animal and plant health] is the ‘worst-case scenario’ for a UK-US FTA”. In other words, the US is deeply hostile to the UK maintaining EU-type rules against chlorination or GM foods. This intransigent stance was reinforced last August by Zippy Duvall, head of the American Farm Bureau. Duvall insisted his powerful organisation would ensure Congress voted down any FTA unless Britain accepted US agriculture imports on their own terms.

So much for the DTI upholding “the UK’s high levels of public, animal, and plant health, including food safety”. So much for Bowie’s belief the SNP is “scaremongering” over the FTA negotiations.

Note: US farmers use chlorination to control chicken infections resulting from the packed conditions in which the birds are kept. But even this chemical cleaning does not eliminate disease transmission to humans.

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Note also: President Trump’s key advisor on trade is Peter Navarro, another fierce supporter of US protectionism. Navarro is on record as believing the United States has “already begun to lose control of [its] food supply chain”. Any thought that a UK-US trade deal will be a bonanza for Scottish farmers is being naïve – especially Mr Bowie.


The National: National Fact Check False 

Mr Bowie’s understanding of UK-US trade negotiations is as poor as his naval navigation skills.