Johnson and Corbyn clash over NHS at pre-election PMQs

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have clashed over the NHS in what is likely to be the last PMQs before the Christmas election.

The prime minister and Labour leader went head-to-head on the health service in the Commons, with the NHS likely to be a key issue for voters in the 12 December poll.

Amid the deadlock surrounding Brexit, MPs backed an early election in a vote on Tuesday.

UK faces third general election in five years

Britain’s EU exit has dominated politics in recent weeks and PMQs was expected to be no different.

But in a reminder that Brexit won’t be the only issue that decides who will occupy Downing Street after polling day, it was the NHS that was the focus of the exchanges.

Mr Johnson said Labour would put the health service at risk because the opposition would “wreck” the economy.

The PM said the choice facing voters was the “politics of protest” offered by Mr Corbyn, or the “politics of leadership” he said was on offer with the Tories.

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But Mr Corbyn said the public now had a “chance to vote for real change” after nine years of the Conservatives in power – five of them in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

“This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to end privatisation in our NHS, give it the funding it needs and give it the doctors, the nurses, the GPs and all the other staff that it needs,” he said.

PMQs began with tributes being paid to departing Speaker John Bercow, before the Labour leader went on the attack over the NHS.

Mr Corbyn told MPs that Mr Johnson wanted to “sell out” the health service in order to get a trade deal with Donald Trump.

He said this would mean “yet more National Health Service money being siphoned off into private profit”.

The Labour leader cited a documentary from Channel 4’s Dispatches, which reported that the price the NHS pays for US medicines has been discussed in six meetings between trade officials from both countries.

Mr Corbyn added: “Why did the prime minister say the health service wasn’t on the table in any post-Brexit trade deal?”

The PM said it was “very simple”, the NHS “is not on the table”.

Mr Johnson added that the government had put a “stupendous” amount of money into the health service.

“And the reason we’re able to invest in the NHS is because for the last nine years this economy has been growing,” the PM continued.

“It has grown by 19% since the Conservatives first came into office, and he would ruin this economy and ruin our ability to fund the NHS, and that is the reality.”

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