Brexiteers condemned for not backing £350m NHS amendment to EU withdrawal bill

‘Voters can now see very well that pro-Leave Tories made that pledge cynically, without ever thinking about how it might be achieved’

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Brexiteers who claimed the NHS would receive an extra £350m after Brexit have been condemned for voting down an amendment demanding an analysis of the impact of exiting the EU on the health service.

The amendment to Government’s bill – voted down in the Commons by 337 to 288 votes – would have forced Theresa May to probe the effects of Brexit on the NHS if it had been successful.

Among the prominent Brexiteers who voted against the amendment included Michael Gove, the then-Justice Secretary, Boris Johnson, who is now the Foreign Secretary, and Priti Patel, who is now the International Development Secretary.

Five Labour MPs also voted the amendment down, including Gisela Stuart, who appeared alongside Mr Johnson next to a battlebus promising voters a £350m-a-week spending bonanza for the health service. Kate Hoey, another Labour MP who campaigned to leave the EU, voted against her colleagues’ amendment. 

Chuka Umunna, the former shadow Business Secretary who tabled the amendment, said those who campaigned to leave the EU and voted the amendment down should “hang their heads in shame”.

“For them to promise £350m more a week for the NHS, and then turn round and oppose an amendment that would have set out how they will deliver their pledge is utterly shameless and disgraceful,” he added.

“Voters can now see very well that pro-Leave Tories made that pledge cynically, without ever thinking about how it might be achieved.

“Many people voted for Brexit because they believed, in good faith, the pledge painted down the side of Vote Leave's big red bus. If the Government do not keep the promise made by so many of their leading members, they will face deep and justified public anger.”

Last week Mr Gove was urged by Chuka Umunna, who is also the chair of Vote Leave Watch, to back the amendment, which had the backing of 52 MPs. Supporters include former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and former Labour leadership contender Owen Smith.

In December Mr Gove defended the pledge, telling the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can replay, I’m always happy to replay, the argument about £350m, because the figures are there.

"We haven’t left the European Union yet, let’s wait to see. The money is there and it’s for the Government to decide how to spend it once we leave,” he added. The UK Statistics Authority, however, described the pledge made during the referendum campaign as “misleading”.

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