Boris Johnson: Leave campaign's £350m a week claim was 'gross underestimate'

Posted On: 
16th January 2018

Boris Johnson has upped the ante on the Leave campaign's claim that the Government sends Brussels £350m per week, insisting they should have actually used a higher figure.

Boris Johnson called the £350m a 'gross underestimate'
Credit: 
PA

Mr Johnson and other Brexiteers have repeatedly come under fire for the £350m figure, which was emblazoned on the side of the Vote Leave bus during the referendum campaign. 

The idea that British contributions to the EU budget could instead be used on public services such as the NHS became one of the Out campaign's most potent messages. 

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But the Foreign Secretary today says they could have used an even bigger number, pointing out that the weekly contribution will rise to £438m by the end of the proposed two-year transition period in 2021.

“There was an error on the side of the bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control," he told the Guardian.

And he argued the Government should still divert as much cash as possible to the health service, saying: “As and when the cash becomes available – and it won’t until we leave – the NHS should be at the very top of the list.”

He also argued against having another referendum, something Nigel Farage has suggested might help categorically put the EU issue to bed.

“We’ve just had one, and I think it went pretty well but it was something that caused an awful lot of heartache and soul-searching, and everybody went through the wringer on it,” Mr Johnson said.

“I’m not convinced that the public is absolutely gagging for another Brexit referendum.”

Also speaking to the Guardian, shadow Brexit minister Matthew Pennycook launched into Mr Johnson over the £350m claim, saying: "He spent the entire referendum campaign standing in front of his red bus with a bogus claim on the side, and now he is saying the figure should be higher. The public really do deserve better from the Foreign Secretary.”