Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign's '£350m for the NHS' pledge hours after result

The Ukip leader said he had never made such a pledge

Jon Stone
Saturday 25 June 2016 12:55 BST
Nigel Farage cannot guarantee NHS pledge

Nigel Farage has disowned a pledge to spend £350 million of European Union cash on the NHS after Brexit.

The Ukip leader was asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme whether he would guarantee that the money pledged for the health service during the campaign would now be spent on it.

Speaking on the morning of the referendum result he however said he had never made any such pledge.

“No I can’t [guarantee it], and I would never have made that claim. That was one of the mistakes that I think the Leave campaign made,” he said.

When it was pointed out that Vote Leave emblazoned the £350 million claim onto the side of a tour bus and drove it around the country, Mr Farage said: “It wasn’t one of my adverts – I can assure you! I think they made a mistake in doing that.

“We have a £10 billion, £34 million a day featherbed, that is going to be free money that we can spend on the NHS, on schools, on whatever it is."

Mr Farage has been more closely associated with the Leave.EU campaign than Vote Leave, which was the official Brexit campaign.

The Leave campaign was repeatedly rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for claiming the UK paid the EU £350 million a week.

The figure does not take into account Britain’s rebate or money paid to the UK from the EU budget under grants for policy areas like agriculture and regional development.

Despite the criticism, the Leave campaign has emblazoned the figure on the side of a bus and continues to use it in campaign literature and in interviews.

A poll by Ipsos MORI published on 16 June found that nearly half the British public believed the claim.

Just 39 per cent realise the figure, which has formed the centrepiece of the Leave campaign, is false, while 14 per cent do not know. Some 47 per cent said it was true.

In fact, independent and respected Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the net effect of leaving the EU would be for a £36 billion black hole in the public finances to open during the spending period as a result of lower growth and tax revenue.

Britain on Thursday voted to leave the European Union by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

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