David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn teamed up at the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the EU referendum to attack Boris Johnson and the Leave campaign for “masquerading as the saviours of the NHS”.
It comes amid a deepening in tensions within Tory circles over the upcoming referendum as 57 MPs pledged to derail George Osborne’s budget if Britain voted to leave the EU. The Chancellor had warned – to the dismay of his Eurosceptic colleagues – that Britain would face a fresh round of austerity in the event of a Brexit vote.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Question the Labour leader denounced Mr Johnson and Michael Gove, the pro-Brexit Justice Secretary, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” as they masqueraded as the saviours of the NHS.
He added: “A major funder of the Leave campaign said: ‘If it were up to me I would privatise the National Health Service’. The honourable member for Uxbridge said if people have to pay for NHS services they would value them more. Both he and the honourable member for Surrey Heath are members of a government that has put the NHS into record deficit.”
Mr Corbyn also raised the defection of prominent Tory MP Sarah Wollaston from the Leave camp to the Remain camp. “Didn’t the honourable member for Totnes get it right when she rejected the duplicity of this argument in the Leave campaign and decided to join the Remain campaign?” the Labour leader asked.
Dr Wollaston, a former GP who chairs an influential parliamentary committee, quit the Leave campaign earlier this month over its “false” NHS claims. She added that Vote Leave’s claim that leaving the EU would provide £350 million for the NHS “simply isn’t true”.
The doctor, who declared for Leave at the start of the campaign, said she realised her view had changed after she had received her postal ballot papers.
Responding to the Labour leader Mr Cameron said he was “delighted” that Ms Wollaston changed her mind and said it was a “brave thing for a politician to do”. He added: “They key to a strong NHS is a strong economy and there can’t be any doubt that nine out of ten economists… saying our economy”.
Mr Corbyn also used the last debate before the crucial referendum next week to attack the “opportunistic” pro-Brexit Tories who should be condemned for faking a "Damascene conversion" to the anti-austerity movement by warning they will block a “punishment” Budget if Britain leaves the EU.
He criticised the 57 Tory MPs who vowed to vote against George Osborne's potential Brexit Budget, with the Chancellor warning of tax rises to fill a £30 billion black hole that would emerge if the UK leaves the EU.
Mr Cameron said it was one of the “very few times” he agreed with the Labour leader and insisted the Government would have to further cut public services and increase taxes if Britain votes to leave on June 23.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies