Ukip has backtracked on an earlier statement issued to IBTimes UK, in which its trade spokesperson said the party wished to open the NHS and education to US investors as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
In a statement, Clive Page, who claimed to be a spokesperson for trade spokesperson William Dartmouth, issued the following response to the story that ran on 20 October:
It is Ukip policy that the NHS would be excluded from any TTIP agreement. This policy was clearly spelled out by health spokesman Louise Bourse [sic] at our Doncaster conference.
"You have been sent a copy of letter from Nigel Farage in which he clearly states that he opposed to TTIP.
"The information you received from an employee of William Dartmouth was incorrect. He was not authorised to speak on matters of policy or indeed to talk to the press."
The aforementioned letter, which IBTimes UK has received from Nigel Farage, via Page, is below:
The UK trades [sic] union movement has become very corporate and pro-EU, those that are not put candidates up against UKIP under their "No2EU" banner.
On TTIP, I will oppose this for the reasons you mention.
IBTimes UK had contacted Dartmouth's office to get clarification on Ukip's policy on international trade and, in particular, TTIP. After a telephone conversation, we received answers to questions on TTIP via email from Guy Parfitt, a member of William Dartmouth's staff, who purported to be "his press officer" and who had claimed to have received the answers from Dartmouth.
On the website for Dartmouth – the Ukip MEP for south-west England and Gibraltar and the party's spokesperson for trade – Parfitt is described as thus:
"Previously a Ukip Chairman and Secretary for Ukip Thornbury & Yate, Guy is currently the Secretary of Ukip Cotswolds. Guy deals with communications, event planning and enquiries. Guy believes that William's fight to recover sovereignty and democracy is essential for present and future generations of our country."
Page explained Dartmouth had hurriedly given the answers to Parfitt – who is not permitted to speak on Ukip policy – on the phone, who had subsequently "made an error and confused the words 'include' with 'exclude'."
"It is regrettable and William Dartmouth apologises for any confusion," Page said.
After seeking further information on Ukip's stance on TTIP, IBTimes UK was issued with the following statement from the office of Nigel Farage:
"The trade agreement is being negotiated by the unelected EU Trade Commissioner behind closed doors - all our MEPs can do at the moment is sit and wait until the final agreement is forwarded to the EU "parliament" and then say yes or no to it. Astonishingly, MEPs have no power to make amendments to any agreement the EU makes on international trade, nor does our elected UK government.
"Ukip is in favour of free trade but we are opposed to the undemocratic Commission negotiating on our behalf. Of course we look at each trade deal on case by case basis, so if this one is not in the UK's interest, we will have no reservation in voting against. However we have yet to receive even the draft agreement (let alone the final agreement). In the meantime, we share your concerns."
Neither Farage nor Dartmouth were available for comment on the matter.