Welsh MPs call on Government to keep Vote Leave’s promise on NHS funding

Five senior Welsh MPs have called on the UK Government to keep the promise of the Vote Leave campaign to spend £350 million a week (amounting to £18.2bn a year) on the NHS, over and above current spending commitments.

They point to analysis from the House of Commons Library which shows that, if the money promised by Vote Leave were distributed in line with current health spending, the Welsh NHS would be in line for a cash injection of £880 million a year over and above what is currently planned.

Chris Evans, David Hanson, Carolyn Harris, Stephen Kinnock and Owen Smith are backing Vote Leave Watch’s #ShowUsTheMoney campaign, which is calling on the Chancellor to commit to this promise in his Autumn Statement.

Five members of the current cabinet made the £350 million pledge during the referendum campaign, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox making a specific promise to spend more money on the Welsh NHS. Mr Fox said: “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.”

In an open letter to Philip Hammond, the five MPs say:

“Dear Chancellor

“We believe in a Wales with an excellent, well-funded public sector that provides a world-class service to the people of Wales, pays its hard-working staff well, and treats them with respect.

“This was the vision of Britain promised by your cabinet colleagues who campaigned for a Leave vote in the EU referendum. Vote Leave promised that, if Britain left the EU, £350m a week extra would be spent on the NHS. They travelled the country in a bus which said: “We send the EU £350 million a week let’s fund our NHS instead.” In the press conference suite at their London headquarters, a large sign read: “Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week.”

“The Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for International Trade, the Secretary of State for the Environment, the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for International Development all appeared in photo opportunities featuring these messages. Liam Fox made a specific commitment to the Welsh people to spend more money on the Welsh NHS in the event of Brexit. They made a very clear promise to the people of Wales, and a very large number of people believed this promise.

“In your speech to Conservative Party Conference earlier this month, you said that the message of the referendum result had been “received, loud and clear” by the government. Members of the government talk of the “mandate” from the voters for Brexit.

“We accept the verdict of the British people. Yet if this mandate is to mean anything, it must include the single most visible promise of the Leave campaign – spending £350 million more a week on the NHS.

“In just under a month, you will present your first Autumn Statement. We are calling on you to commit to giving Wales its share, which the House of Commons Library has calculated to be £880 million, as soon as this money becomes available by leaving the European Union. This additional funding must be over and above the amount that is currently planned to be spent on the National Health Service.

“Anything else will be a betrayal of the wishes of the people of Wales. We challenge you, when you stand up in the House of Commons on November 23rd, to show us the money and commit to Vote Leave’s promise; or explain why you cannot, and why your cabinet colleagues so cynically misled the British people.”

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

“I set up Vote Leave Watch to hold Leave campaigners to account for the promises they made in the referendum campaign, like spending £350 million more a week on the NHS.

“With the Government dominated by Vote Leavers like Boris and Liam Fox, it is vital they keep their promise to the people of Wales and show us the money.”