‘It’s not a promise broken. I never said that during the course of the election’
Leading ‘Brexit’ campaigner Iain Duncan Smith claims he “never said” the NHS would get £350m a week extra after leaving the EU – even though it was emblazoned on the side of a bus.
Amid a series of revelations suggesting the ‘Brexit’-ers are backsliding on pledges made before Thursday’s historic vote, the former Tory party leader was confronted by the Leave campaign’s poster by Andrew Marr, which said: “Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week.”
But ‘IDS’ responded:
“It’s not a promise broken. I never said that during the course of the election.”
The opening exchange shed a little more light – suggesting the £350m was only an “extrapolation.
Duncan Smith: “The £350 million was an extrapolation on the £19.1 billion – that’s the total amount of money we gave back to the European Union …
Marr: “Your side said all the money would go to the NHS.
Duncan Smith: “What we actually said was a significant amount of it wold go to the NHS. It’s essentially down to the Government, but I believe that is what was pledged and that’s what should happen.”
Marr: “That money will go to the NHS?”
Duncan Smith: “We must talk about it going to the NHS, there are other bits and pieces like agriculture, which is part of the process. That is the divide up. It was never the total.”
The figure has been criticised repeatedly in the past for being “misleading”, including by the UK Statistics Authority.
In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Nigel Farage admitted it was a “mistake” for the Leave campaign to make the pledge – though he was never formally part of the official Leave campaign.
But it’s not just the NHS pledge coming under scrutiny.
On Friday night, pro-Brexit MEP Daniel Hannan was accused of advocating an immigration policy “completely at odds with what the public think they’ve just voted for” when he suggested free movement of people should be part of the new post-EU deal.
Hannan had said the UK should stay within the “single market” – the EU trading group – which means Britain would still have to allow in European workers, though they would lose benefit entitlements and right to get the same level of university tuition fees among other rights lost.