We must hold Theresa May’s government, dominated by Brexiteers, to account for their overblown claims

We must hold Theresa May's government, dominated by Brexiteers, to account for their overblown claims

Theresa May’s campaign for the Conservative leadership was dominated by leading Brexiteers who will dominate her Government and must be kept to account for the pledges they made when she fulfils her promise to take Britain out of the EU, Vote Leave Watch founder Chuka Umunna MP said today.

Research by Vote Leave Watch shows that Theresa May’s campaign manager, Chris Grayling, has already backtracked on Vote Leave’s promise to spend £350m a week extra on the NHS.

Key May backers Chris Grayling and Priti Patel both played vital roles in the Vote Leave campaign. They themselves promised to: Increase NHS spending; abolish VAT on household energy bills; match all currently planned EU funding to British farmers, scientists, regions and others; and invest more money on increasing primary school places.

Priti Patel also made the damaging pledge to “halve” vital workers’ rights guaranteed by EU law during the campaign. Theresa May must immediately distance herself from this pledge, and confirm that British workers will not lose the rights they have gained from our membership of the EU.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, founder of Vote Leave Watch, said:

“Theresa May played a disappointingly low profile role on the Remain side in the EU referendum, perhaps with an eye on a future Tory leadership contest. Her leadership campaign manager was a leading Brexiteer, she has said she will appoint a Leave campaigner as minister in charge of Brexit, and it is clear her Government will be dominated by Leave campaigners. They must be held to account for their wild claims and overblown promises during the referendum campaign in the new May administration.

“Her supporters, who will likely play key roles in her Government, made a series of promises to the British people for which they will be held to account when they take up their roles – spending £350m more a week on the NHS, matching all EU funding that currently goes to Britain, abolishing VAT on energy bills, and more.

“Just because there will be a change of Prime Minister and a new Government, it does not mean the British people won’t hold Vote Leave campaigners in the new administration to account.”





£350m extra a week for the NHS

During the EU referendum campaign, Vote Leave promised repeatedly to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS if we left the EU. The pledge was even written on the side of their bus (link) and at their headquarters (link). Theresa May’s campaign manager has already backtracked on this promise.

·         On 27th June 2016, Chris Grayling said the £350m a week pledge was “an aspiration” rather than a promise. Link.


Chris Grayling

During the EU referendum, Chris Grayling promised that a vote to leave the EU would amend and then repeal the European Communities Act to reduce the power of the European Court of Justice and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, abolish the 5% rate of VAT on household energy bills, increase NHS spending by £100 million a week, end the free movement of people, and leave the EU’s Common Commercial Policy. All this would be achieved by the end of the current parliament.

·         In a Vote Leave press release on 15th June 2016, Chris Grayling promised that if Britain voted to leave the EU, a series of bills would be introduced during the current parliament. He said: “After we Vote Leave the public need to see that there is immediate action to take back control from the EU. We will need a carefully managed negotiation process and some major legislative changes before 2020, including taking real steps to limit immigration, to abolish VAT on fuel and tampons, and to end the situation where an international court can tell us who we can and cannot deport. A vote to Leave on 23 June is a vote for action, and the Government will need to respond quickly.Link.

·         The bills are as follows:

o   European Union Law (Emergency Provisions) Bill. This would be introduced in the current session of Parliament. It would immediately end the rogue European Court of Justice’s control over national security, allow the Government to remove EU citizens whose presence is not conducive to the public good (including terrorists and serious criminals), end the growing use of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights to overrule UK law, and end payouts under EU law to big businesses, saving between £7 billion and £43 billion for public services by 2021. This will amend the European Communities Act 1972 but not repeal it. This action is limited to areas that will not form part of the final UK-EU settlement.

o   A special Finance Bill. This would abolish the 5% rate of VAT on household energy bills by the date of the next general election by amending the Value Added Tax Act 1994, and will be a major benefit for low income households. This will be paid for by savings from the UK’s contributions to the EU budget.

o   National Health Service (Funding Target) Bill. This would require that by the next general election, the NHS receives a £100 million per week real-terms cash transfusion over and above current plans. This will be paid for by savings from the UK’s contributions to the EU budget and other savings from leaving (e.g. we will not pay the billions that the ECJ is ordering us to pay to multinational companies trying to avoid UK taxes).

o   Asylum and Immigration Control Bill. This would end the automatic right of all EU citizens to enter the UK by the next election. We will be able to carry out proper security checks on those entering and refuse entry to known criminals. EU citizens will be subject to UK law rather than EU immigration legislation. The Bill would end the discrimination against non-EU citizens and create a genuine points-based immigration system in which the possession of suitable skills is a key element. The Bill will also end the European Court’s control of the UK’s asylum policy by the next general election. Immediately after the referendum, a process should be established to consider the details of this new system.

o   Free Trade Bill. This would require that by the next election, the UK leaves the EU’s ‘common commercial policy’. That would restore the UK Government’s power to control its own trade policy. That would create jobs. The UK would take back its seat on the World Trade Organization, becoming a more influential force for free trade and friendly cooperation. After we Vote Leave, we would immediately be able to start negotiating new trade deals with emerging economies and the world’s biggest economies (the US, China and Japan, as well as Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and so on), which could enter into force immediately after the UK leaves the EU.

o   European Communities Act 1972 (Repeal) Bill. This would ensure that by the next general election, the European Communities Act 1972, the legal basis for the supremacy of EU law in the UK, is repealed. The EU Treaties will cease to form part of UK law and the European Court’s jurisdiction over the UK will come to a permanent end. The UK would cease to make contributions to the EU budget. EU law would be transferred into domestic law so there is no abrupt change and Parliament would be able to debate and choose which provisions to keep, which to remove, and which to amend.


Chris Grayling, along with 12 other Conservative minister including Priti Patel, promised on 14th June 2016 “that every region, group and recipient of EU funding will continue to get that money after a ‘Leave’ vote in the EU referendum”. They promised that all EU funding would be guaranteed “until 2020, or up to the date when the EU is due to conclude individual programmes if that is earlier than 2020.” This funding amounts to £8.3bn a year. 

·         The Conservative ministers, including Chris Grayling and Priti Patel, said: “There is more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU - including universities, scientists, family farmers, regional funds, cultural organisations and others - will continue to do so while also ensuring that we save money that can be spent on our priorities. If the public votes to leave on 23 June, we will continue to fund EU programmes in the UK until 2020, or up to the date when the EU is due to conclude individual programmes if that is earlier than 2020. We will also be able to spend the money much more effectively. For example, some of the bureaucracy around payments to farmers is very damaging and can be scrapped once we take back control.” Link.


Priti Patel

During the EU referendum, Priti Patel argued that, if Britain left the EU, we could “halve” vital social and employment rights for workers that are enshrined in EU law. These include the right to paid holiday leave, maximum working hours, equal treatment for men and women, rights for part-time workers, health and safety standards at work, parental leave and protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation.

·         In a speech to the Institute of Directors on 18th May 2016, Priti Patel said: “If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs”. Link.

·         In a speech to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers on 28th April 2016, Priti Patel said: “Research from Open Europe has shown that there are dozens of regulations imposed by the EU with the costs on British business totalling over £33 billion…The only way we can liberate ourselves from these burdens is to Vote Leave and take control over our laws on 23 June. If this country Votes Leave, we can have a strong and positive future as an independent, free and sovereign country. By being able to take back control of the laws that we make, we can begin the process of auditing and untangling our laws from the Brussels red tape from that hits our businesses hardest.”Link.


During the EU referendum, Priti Patel pledged that if we left the EU, more money would be spent on primary school places.

·         On 18th April 2016, Priti Patel said: “If we Vote Leave we can take back control of our borders. We can also take back control of the £350 million we send to the EU every single week, and reinvest it in our vital and invaluable public services. This is yet another example of how Britain can look forward to a more prosperous, more secure future if we Vote Leave.” Link.

·         The Vote Leave press release pledged that “just 2.4% of our gross EU contributions could eliminate the shortfall in school places in England.”