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Boris Johnson repeats controversial '£350m a week to the NHS after Brexit' claim

3 min read

Boris Johnson has repeated the highly contentious Vote Leave claim that the UK will be able to spend £350m more on the NHS after Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary said it would be "a fine thing" if a lot of the £350m a week the campaign claimed is sent to the EU went to the health service.

During the referendum campaign, the pledge - which was emblazoned on the Vote Leave bus - drew significant criticism.

The UK's statistics watchdog said it was “misleading and undermines trust in official statistics” to use the gross contribution to the bloc, which takes no account of Britain's rebate.

Mr Johnson has been questioned repeatedly about the claim since, but he and others in the Out camp have shied away from repeating the pledge.

But writing in the Telegraph today, he said: “Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week. It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS.”

Laying out his vision for Brexit, he added that the UK should not continue making payments to the EU and will not have to pay for access to the single market.

He also suggested that the Government could use Brexit as an opportunity to impose a tax on foreign property buyers and cut VAT.

His intervention is likely to increase divisions within the Conservative party over the government’s strategy during Brexit negotiations.

It will also anger Theresa May, who is preparing to make a major speech on Brexit in Florence on Friday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sought to exploit the divisions, saying the intervention "laid bare the conflicts at the heart of Theresa May's government over Brexit". 

He added: "The Foreign Secretary even has the gall to dredge up the fantasy of £350 million a week extra for the NHS.

"The Prime Minister must spell out now how this will be paid for, or stand condemned for once again trying to mislead the British public."

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson issued a veiled swipe at Mr Johnson on Twitter - suggesting his comments were inappropriate following the Parsons Green bomb attack.

Meanwhile a Downing Street source said: “Boris’ views are well known – as you'll see in the PM's speech next week the Government is united in our determination to make the most of the opportunities for a successful future outside the EU."

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