WATCH: Anna Soubry slams Boris Johnson over fresh Brexit figure ‘con’
Tory MP Anna Soubry has accused Boris Johnson of 'conning’ voters after he reignited the row over the Leave campaign's claim that Britain sends Brussels £350m a week.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Johnson said the controversial figure plastered across Vote Leave's bus before the 2016 referendum was in fact too low - arguing the sum will rise to £438m by the end of the proposed two-year transition period in 2021.
The pro-Europe backbencher however said she was “disappointed” in her Conservative colleague, who she said needs to "man up" and be honest with the electorate.
When asked on the BBC’s Daily Politics whether, regardless of the specific number, the sum that Britain would save after Brexit was still significant, she replied: “No, people have been conned.”
“I’m very surprised and disappointed in Boris for perpetuating these nonsenses.
She added: "This is not going to be extra money that will be going to our NHS.
“People were conned about that and I’m very disappointed that given where we are, that our Foreign Secretary who holds after all one of the great offices of state is not squaring up and being honest with the British public, and they deserve honesty as we leave the European Union."
In his latest intervention, Mr Johnson said the figure, which was campaigned on as money that would be spent to boost the health service, had been “grossly underestimated”.
“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 said.
“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.”
Ms Soubry, who yesterday met the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, with a delegation of pro-European MPs said the original figure was an “important part of the trick” that won the Leave side the referendum.
She added that given the costs of exercising Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc it was “irresponsible” to say ministers have even more to spend.
“It’s really important we don’t give people false hope and phoney promises as Leave did in order to win the referendum,” she said.
"Already Brexit has cost us many billions of pounds because the Government has put money aside in order to spend it to effectively deliver Brexit.
“So the reality of this I believe is dawning on people, and Boris is being irresponsible to continue to con people in this way.
“He should be honest about he challenges Brexit poses to the country. He’s our Foreign Secretary, this is grown up, this is proper stuff, he needs to man up to the position he holds."
On the meeting in Brussels with Mr Barnier, the MP for Broxtowe said they discussed concerns over the Government’s policy to pull Britain out of the single market and customs union.
“There is obviously very grave concern about whether or not we are being realistic and whether or not people are being properly informed as to the reality of what is likely to be offered,” she said.
“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position. We’re leaving the European Union, but we then tied our hands, unfortunately by the red lines that the Government set down before the General Election in June."