Britain could get an additional £300m a week to splurge on its ailing National Health Service if it cancels Brexit, according to Sir Vince Cable, leader of the nation’s Liberal Democrat Party.
“Referendum On The Facts” Of Brexit
The call, made in an interview with The Independent newspaper, is a reversal of the infamous pledge made by Brexiteers during the 2016 referendum. The Brexiteers ran an advertising campaign claiming that leaving the European Union would provide £350m a week for the NHS, which was widely viewed as misleading.
Sir Vince has called for a “referendum on the facts” when the Brexit negotiations come to an end in just over a year’s time. The “public finances are set to be damaged to the tune of billions of pounds per year” and “on top of that, the Government is spending £3bn of taxpayers’ money on lawyers and lorry parks to prepare for Brexit, and paying a costly divorce bill,” he told the newspaper.
“Many people will be rightly asking whether the price being paid for Brexit is really worth it, when the NHS is being stretched to breaking point,” he added.
£300m Enough To Fix The NHS Crisis
Some £300m each week is enough money to fix the NHS crisis faced by the UK, Sir Vince said. “It is crucial that, once the real consequences of leaving the EU are clear, the public is given a chance to exit from Brexit and stay in the EU,” he said.
Explaining the Lib Dems’ arrival at the £300m figure, the party said it used November 2016 data from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which claimed the economic effect of Brexit may weaken the public finances by £15bn each year by 2020 — or the equivalent of nearly £300m a week.
Brexit Divorce Bill To Top £50bn
And that is on top of the controversial Brexit divorce bill, which could see the UK paying £50bn to cover liabilities when it exits the bloc. The final sum, though still being debated, is expected to be equivalent to 13% of the £660bn overall liabilities the UK committed to pay as a member of the EU. This figure includes a seven-year budget which ends in 2020, pensions and outstanding loans.
UK Healthcare In “Critical State”
The Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation and the King’s Fund recently said health and social care in the UK was in a “critical state”. They said that by 2019-2020 there will be a £2.5bn funding gap in social care alone.
In last month’s UK budget the chancellor Philip Hammond said the NHS would get an extra £28bn in funding, with the first tranche of cash – £350m – set to come in the next few months and the rest of the money before 2020.