52 MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are backing an amendment to the Article 50 Bill that would force the Government to publish a report on the impact of Brexit on health spending – putting pressure on Leave campaigners in Government who promise that leaving would mean £350 million more a week being spent on the National Health Service.
The amendment, added to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill), was put down by Chuka Umunna, the Chair of Vote Leave Watch. Senior MPs who have signed it include former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, and former Labour leadership contender Owen Smith. Looking at signatories on the order paper, it is the best-supported amendment of any that have been added to the bill.
The amendment, were it to be selected for debate today and then passed by the House of Commons, would make the Prime Minister produce a report on the impact of Brexit on the public finances, and especially health spending, before she could trigger Article 50.
Five current members of the Cabinet – Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Priti Patel, Chris Grayling, and Andrea Leadsom – promise during the EU referendum campaign that Brexit would free up £350 million a week to be spent on our National Health Service.
Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, Chair of Vote Leave Watch, said:
“Vote Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson looked the electorate in the eye and stood in front of their big red bus next to their pledge that Brexit would mean £350 million more a week for our National Health Service. This amendment is designed to ensure that they cannot run away from that pledge without scrutiny and debate.
“This is important. Many millions of people believed, in good faith, the promise made by Vote Leave. If this promise will not be kept – which will be considered a gross betrayal – it is vital those voters find out what will happen before we trigger Article 50, rather than after.
“I would urge MPs – including those who campaigned to leave – to vote for it, should it be called, and give people clarity about what Brexit will really mean for our NHS.”
Notes to editors
The full amendment to the bill is below:
Clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
“(3) Before exercising the power under subsection 1, the Prime Minister must prepare and publish a report on the effect of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on national finances, including the impact on health spending.
Member’s explanatory statement:
This amendment calls for the Government to publish a report on the effect of EU withdrawal on the national finances, particularly health spending following claims in the referendum campaign that EU withdrawal would allow an additional £350 million per week to be spent on the National Health Service.
The full list of MPs supporting the bill on the order paper is below:
During the referendum campaign, members of the current cabinet promised to spend £350 million more a week on the NHS after Brexit:
Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade: “Instead of handing over £350m a week to Brussels we should be spending that money on local priorities like the Welsh NHS, which has faced a billion pounds of cuts by the Welsh Labour Government since 2011.” Link.
Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport: “Getting to a proper seven day NHS could make a real difference to this country. It would be so much easier to pay for that change if we took back control of our £350 million a week contribution to the EU and spent it on our priorities.” Link.
Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary: Boris stood in front of a sign at Vote Leave HQ that read: “Let’s give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week”. Link.
Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: She was pictured in front of the Vote Leave bus, which featured the slogan “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” Link.
Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development: “The UK sends an eye-watering £350 million to the EU every week. That’s enough to build a new fully staffed hospital.” Link.