Leavers’ promises rapidly unravel

by Jack Schickler | 27.06.2016

Many of Vote Leave’s campaign promises were false. Within days of the result, leave campaigners themselves seemed to admit as much, and started back-pedalling on a range of central pledges on the NHS and migration.

Where’s NHS’s £350m?

Leavers promised more money for the NHS. One Vote Leave poster read “let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”, referring – incorrectly – to the value of our EU budget contribution. A separate statement from Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart called on the government to offer “at least a £100 million per week cash transfusion to the NHS” after Brexit.

These seemingly firm proposals melted after polls closed. Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday about the promise, Vote Leave’s Iain Duncan Smith described it as “just a series of possibilities”, and stated that he had “never said… during the course of the election” that £350 million would be spent on the NHS. In reality, the economic shock of leaving means less money available for services like the NHS, not more.

Wriggling out of migration pledge

Vote Leave promised an Australian points-based system to “control” inward migration flows. Many voters will have interpreted this to mean a reduction in numbers, and sure enough, on June 5’s Peston on Sunday programme, Gove re-committed to “bring [net migration] down to tens of thousands”, in line with the Conservative manifesto.

Yet, within 24 hours of the referendum result being announced, fellow Conservative and Vote Leave member Daniel Hannan proposed to Newsnight a system based on “free movement of labour” within Europe, and said “I don’t think anyone has tried to put a number on” net migration levels. Johnson’s claim today in The Telegraph that leave voters are not “mainly driven by anxieties about immigration” will, no doubt, come as news to millions of them.

Vote Leave is removing press releases and other commitments from its website – as if it wishes to hide the evidence. One pro-Brexit MP reportedly told Sky’s Faisal Islam yesterday that it was for the government, not Brexit supporters, to manage the consequences of leaving. Leave campaigners have likened Brexit to a prison break – now they seem to expect the guards to find them a safe house.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Leavers’ promises rapidly unravel”

  • People were warned this could and would happen. They took no notice. Well, one could say ”You get what you deserve and deserve what you get”.

    Of course, some who voted leave now say we have a golden opportunity to ”hold Westminster to account”. I wonder why they never banged the drum for greater accountability before the referendum???

  • We need to distribute one clear, simple message: “The only way to stop this chaos is to annul the referendum result and stay in the EU”.

  • What the Vote Leave Camp have done is almost criminal. They promised the impossible with blatant lies and deceit. £1.5Trillion wiped off the world stock market, Sterling and the Stock Market in free-fall, the Union in peril of breaking up, etc., etc., all sold with lies and deceit. It will take the UK decades to recover. If a Bank, Insurance company or Estate Agent used the same tactics, they would be in court.