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Analysis

Hey Boris, best bet to get £100m for NHS is cancel Brexit

by Luke Lythgoe | 23.01.2018

Could there be a more hypocritical “saviour” of the NHS than Boris Johnson? The foreign secretary used today’s Cabinet meeting to demand an extra £5 billion annual cash injection for the health service. This £100 million per week sum is way below the £350 million lie Johnson is so fond of repeating. What’s more, it’s the destructive Brexit championed by the foreign secretary which is doing the real damage to the NHS.

The Brexit vote in 2016, and the subsequent exodus of talented EU workers, is at the heart of the NHS’s staffing crisis. Since the referendum, the number of nurses coming to work from the EU has plunged by 89% and the number leaving the NHS has shot up by 67%. Meanwhile, one in five EU doctors is considering leaving due to Brexit.

Brexit is also hurting the British economy. Yesterday the IMF hailed a global economic boom while simultaneously downgrading the UK’s growth forecast. We’re missing out thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and a slower economy will mean the government has less money to spend on important things like the NHS. Brexit is also consuming all the government’s time, making it hard to focus on the current healthcare crisis.

The foreign secretary wants to start his spending next March, saying this would be a “dividend” from leaving the EU, according to The Times. But this doesn’t make sense. Theresa May seems set to strike a transition deal with the EU which will see us paying into the EU budget until 2021. Even after that, Brexit will put the public finances under pressure.

Johnson’s intervention probably isn’t really about the NHS. There is speculation this is part of a strategy to nab the Tory leadership. The timing makes sense, with Conservative MPs recently criticising the “timid” prime minister and calling her “dull, dull, dull”. Johnson’s NHS demands were supported by Brexiters in Cabinet, but provoked a public rejection by May and chancellor Philip Hammond, one of his Cabinet rivals.

If Johnson’s cynical manoeuvrings hand him the keys to Downing Street, his hard Brexit tendencies will be bad for the NHS and bad for the country. We need politicians willing to think hard about how our health service can work for an ageing British population. Part of the answer is to axe Brexit.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Hey Boris, best bet to get £100m for NHS is cancel Brexit”

  • What credibility does Boris still have ? The idea that Boris could become PM is surely unthinkable? I know the English like a personality like Boris but surely on the stage not in Downing Street?

  • Boris the Liar in Chief can make all sorts of false promises about increased funding for the NHS in the sure knowledge that he’ll never have to deliver. An fta with the US, the only fta that the incompetent and bombastic Fox is actually interested in, will not only entail gm food and hormoned beef but handing the NHS over to rapacious corporate America. The Tories know they can never sell the privatization of the NHS to the public in a general election; brexit gives them a golden opportunity to do so in a sneaky & cowardly way. Far from ‘taking back control’, brexit will simply result in the UK becoming a US catamite.