Brexiteers up in arms over plan to boost NHS with tax hike instead of EU savings

Posted On: 
27th May 2018

Furious Brexiteers have lashed out at suggestions extra cash for the NHS will have to come from tax rises instead of money clawed back from the European Union after Britain's departure.

Prominent Leave campaigners including Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart claimed there would be a post-Brexit dividend for the health service.
Credit: 
PA

During the EU referendum campaign, Brexiteers claimed the NHS could be in line for a £350m-a-week cash boost after Brexit - money they said would come from no longer having to pay into the bloc's budget.

Theresa May is currently putting the finishing touches on a planned NHS spending boost that may go some way to fulfilling that pledge in time for the next election.

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But there are growing signs that the boost will be funded through tax hikes rather than the Brexiteers' claimed savings.

The suggestion has already sparked fury from leading Brexit campaigners.

Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel - who was sacked by Mrs May earlier this year - told The Sun on Sunday: “The PM said she would guarantee that when we take back control of our money, it would be spent on domestic priorities, including the NHS. That should be the priority.”

Another source told the paper: “It’s as if the PM wants to honour the referendum pledge but make us pay for it.

"There’s a growing feeling [Chancellor] Philip Hammond is determined not to reward promises made in the Brexit campaign.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is said to be pushing for a 4% annual rise in NHS spending, but Mr Hammond is reportedly holding out and refusing to commit to anything above a five-year settlement at around 3% per year.

Since 2010, NHS spending has risen by just 1.4% a year - far below the longer-term average rise of 3.7%.

NO 'LARGE SUMS' FOR POLICE OR TROOPS

The row over the controversial £350m came as Mr Hammond was said to have warned cabinet colleagues that any extra money for the NHS will have to come at the expense of a cash boost for the police or military.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid told police chiefs this week that he would "prioritise police funding in the spending review next year", while Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson warned that an under-funded military could lead to nuclear armageddon.

But a source close to the Chancellor told The Sunday Times: “If we make a decision to make health spending our top priority, people have to be clear that there won’t be large sums of money for much else."

They added: “There are demands for the police and defence, but ministers will have to accept we won’t be able to do everything.”