NHS, defence and state pension spending could fall after Brexit - David Cameron and George Osborne

Posted On: 
12th June 2016

David Cameron and George Osborne warn today that spending on the NHS, defence and state pension could fall if the UK leaves the EU.

David Cameron and George Osborne
PA Images

The Prime Minister and Chancellor argue that the negative economic impact of Brexit would, in the future, make unaffordable the current policies of the state pension ‘triple lock’, 2% of GDP spent on defence, and NHS funding ringfenced.

Vote Leave has dismissed the warnings as a “baseless threat”.

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Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph about pensioner benefits – including the policy which sees state pensions rise by the highest of inflation, wages or 2.5% – Mr Cameron said: “We did all this in the expectation of a growing economy. But if we had a big black hole, we could struggle to justify this special protection any longer.

"In fact, even if we could justify it morally, it wouldn't actually be affordable.”

Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne highlight the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis that Brexit could mean a hit to the public finances worth between £20bn and £40bn by the end of the decade.

Speaking to the Observer, the Prime Minister stressed that the commitment to increase NHS spending by £10bn over the course of this Parliament was not under threat, but added:

“Future funding for the NHS could be at risk. Our ability to ring-fence and protect spending on health could be at risk too.

“This is the cold reality of leaving the EU – that's why doctors, nurses and the boss of the NHS all say we will be stronger, safer and better-off in the EU.”

Mr Osborne, meanwhile, told the Sun on Sunday spending on defence could drop by between £1bn and £1.5bn if the UK left the EU.

The Chancellor said: “It's the last thing I want to do because I want the country to stay in the European Union, but if we leave the European Union Britain is smaller and so Britain’s armed forces will be smaller and that means fewer planes and ships and personnel to defend us. So it is both a hit to our national economic security but also our national security.”

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, hit out at his party leader for what he called a “vindictive and desperate attempt to bully and frighten the British people”.

“The truth is that these are policy choices and the Conservative manifesto said that protecting pensioners was a priority,” the Tory MP added in a statement put out by Vote Leave.

"It is now apparent that there is nothing they will not use or jettison in their efforts to keep us in the European Union."