The British Prime Minister has angered pro-remain MPs with fresh 'Brexit dividend' claims
The British Prime Minister has again warned that it would not be acceptable to place any further border restrictions between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on the BBC this morning Theresa May also noted that her Government is committed to ensuring that there will be no return to a hard border in Ireland.
“It is important for the people of Northern Ireland that we do not see a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
“The way I would put it is that it is about people being able to carry on leading their lives as they do today.
“It is about people but it is also, really importantly, about the United Kingdom and about this Government working really hard for the United Kingdom.
“What we have seen form the European Commission is one idea in particular that would effectively put a border down which would separate off Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
“That is not right, that is not acceptable; we are one United Kingdom.
However, she admitted that any return to a hard border on the island of Ireland would also be unacceptable, noting, “absolutely; we are committed.”
Mrs May was speaking after she announced that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is set to receive an extra £20bn (€22.85bn) a year by 2024.
She announced the budget to mark the 70th anniversary of the public health service.
However, she has come under fire for suggesting that the money will come in part from what is being termed a “Brexit dividend.”
Writing in the Telegraph, she claimed that as the UK leaves the EU it will “stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels” and will “have more money to spend on priorities such as the NHS.”
She admitted however, that she will also have to raise taxes to pay for the increase.
The Brexit dividend claim raises the spectre of the official ‘Vote Leave’ bus during the Brexit referendum campaign which claimed that the UK would have an extra £350m to spend on the NHS every week as a result of leaving the EU.
The claim was hotly contested at the time and has been widely ridiculed since.
However, on the Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May claimed her new ten-year plan will see an extra £600m a week going in to the NHS by 2023/2024.
“Of course we have got to fund that,” she said.
“That will be through the Brexit dividend; the fact that we are no longer sending vast amounts of money every year to the EU once we leave the EU.
“And we as a country will be contributing a bit more.”
The claim has been widely disputed this morning, with Tory MP Sarah Wollaston warning, “the Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools.”
The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools. Sad to see Govt slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issue. This will make it harder to have a rational debate about the ‘who & how’ of funding & sharing this fairly.— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) June 17, 2018
Meanwhile Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted the UK Government’s own analysis - which found that British public finances will weaken by £15bn (€17.1bn) per year after Brexit.
He warned that the “Brexit dividend’ cannot be used for NHS funding – because it does not exist.
Extra spending can't be funded by Brexit dividend.— Paul Johnson (@PJTheEconomist) June 17, 2018
1) Govt has accepted Brexit will *weaken* public finances by £15bn pa
2) Financial settlement with EU plus commitments to replace EU funding already uses up all of our EU contributions in 2022
There is no Brexit dividend
He also noted that while the health spending plan is an increase on the last eight years, it is still below the long term average in the UK.
He said any funding increase means “higher borrowing or more taxes” – and noted that the Conservative manifesto for the last general election in the UK ruled out increased borrowing.