Foreign secretary reignites the row
In an interview to the Guardian, foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said the Brexit campaign’s highly controversial claim that leaving the EU would give Britain £350m a week extra to spend on the NHS was actually “underestimated”.
He claimed that the UK’s EU contribution was already up to £362m per week for 2017-18 and would rise annually to £410m, £431m, and then to £438m by 2020-21.
Johnson also said that it was reasonable to use the gross figure and insisted that its supporters were right to pledge extra money for the NHS.
“There was an error on the side of the bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control,” he had told the newspaper.
Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain, which is fighting Brexit criticised Boris and said: “This is a yet another untruth from Boris, a man who has become soobsessed with the lie he slapped on the side of the bus.”
“You have the sense that Boris will be arguing about £350m, that bus and that pledge for the rest of his political life. He sold Brexit on a false prospectus and with the NHS in crisis people are rightly asking where is the money and if it’s not forthcoming they should have the right to change their mind. The man is a snake oil salesman.”
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer also condemned Johnson for again reviving his claim, claiming he has ‘no shame’.
A campaign bus used by Vote Leave, including Johnson himself, during the referendum campaign was emblazoned with the slogan: “We send the EU £350 million a week – let’s fund our NHS instead.”
It was widely criticised because £350m per week is an approximate sum for the UK’s “gross contribution” to Brussels.