Umunna challenges Gove to back £350m amendment to the Article 50 Bill

Chuka Umunna MP has today challenged Michael Gove to support an amendment to the Article 50 Bill that would require the Government to publish analysis of the impact of Brexit on health spending before triggering Article 50.

Mr Umunna, the Chair of the Vote Leave Watch campaign, says in his letter that Mr Gove and other Leave campaign MPs “should have no hesitation” in voting for the amendment, which would make clear whether or not the £350 million a week boost in NHS spending they promised can be delivered after Brexit.

The amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has the support of 52 MPs – more than any other. They include former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, and former Labour leadership contender Owen Smith.

In the letter, Chuka Umunna MP says:

“I appreciate that you are no longer in Government. But as a backbencher with an apparently sincere wish to boost the resources available for our NHS, I cannot understand why you could not back this amendment.

“Many of those who voted Leave, in part on the basis that extra monies would be put into the NHS, will consider the failure to make good on the Vote Leave NHS pledge to be a gross betrayal. So you can join me and dozens of other MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens by adding your name to the amendment to show you intend to make good on your promise. If you fail to do so, it will simply confirm to the British people the hollow cynicism of your promises about our National Health Service."

Commenting, Norman Lamb MP, Patron of Vote Leave Watch and former Minister of State for Health, said:

“Liberal Democrats have come together with Labour and Green MPs to force the Government to come clean about whether or not Brexit will leave £350 million a week more to be spent on the NHS, as the Vote Leave campaign promised.

“There is no reason whatsoever why Vote Leave MPs like Michael Gove shouldn’t join them – unless, that is, they are scared of being shown up for misleading the British public during the referendum.

“Our NHS is in dire need of extra funding, and all MPs, Remain or Leave, should get behind that.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors:

Details of the amendment are here: http://www.voteleavewatch.org.uk/52_mps_support_article_50_amendment_calling_for_350m_nhs_pledge_to_be_kept.

 

The full text of the letter from Chuka Umunna MP to Michael Gove is below: 

Dear Michael.

During the referendum on our membership of the European Union, you were the co-chair of the Vote Leave campaign which insisted that, if we left, £350 million more a week would be spent on our National Health Service. You defended this claim against all the arguments that it was invalid; even defying the head of the UK Statistics Authority, who called it “potentially misleading.”

Since the referendum, you, and the ‘Change Britain’ group you help to lead, have insisted that £200 million a week should be spent on the NHS after we leave, based on Office for Budget Responsibility figures released on the day of the 2016 Autumn Statement.

Your repeated concern for the levels of spending on our NHS is touching, given that you were an integral member of a Government that has starved our NHS of much-needed funding, failed to address the big issues surrounding our ageing population and our social care crisis, and imposed a pointless, top-down reorganisation that has angered health professionals and wasted billions of pounds of public money.

Still, I choose to take you at your word that you do genuinely want a substantial increase in NHS spending after we leave the European Union. This being so, you and your Conservative MP colleagues from Vote Leave and Change Britain should have no hesitation in voting for my amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which calls on the Government to analyse the impact of Brexit on health spending before triggering Article 50. For your convenience, the text of the amendment is as follows:

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.”

I appreciate that you are no longer in Government. But as a backbencher with an apparently sincere wish to boost the resources available for our NHS, I cannot understand why you could not back this amendment.

Many of those who voted Leave, in part on the basis that extra monies would be put into the NHS, will consider the failure to make good on the Vote Leave NHS pledge to be a gross betrayal. So you can join me and dozens of other MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens by adding your name to the amendment to show you intend to make good on your promise. If you fail to do so, it will simply confirm to the British people the hollow cynicism of your promises about our National Health Service.

Yours sincerely,

Chuka Umunna MP. 


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