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Recently, the Prime Minister has been weaving a rhetoric based around a so-called ‘Brexit dividend’ ensuring that extra funding will be available for the NHS and other public services. This extra money would, according to the Conservative Party, come from the United Kingdom’s removed liability towards the European Union after Brexit.
On Sunday, May promised an extra £20 billion a year in increased NHS funding.
On the Andrew Marr show, she claimed:
“At the moment, as a member of the European Union, every year we spend significant amounts of money on our subscription, if you like, to the EU. When we leave we won’t be doing that. It’s right that we use that money to spend on our priorities, and the NHS is our number-one priority.”
Yet unlike Labour’s 2017 manifesto, the Tories’ numbers simply don’t add up. Although Britain contributes more to the European Union than it takes out, the impact that a Tory Brexit is likely to have on the British economy will more than cancel out any immediate financial benefits – according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, it has:
“reduced rather than increased the funds available for the NHS (and other public services), both in the short and long term.”
To be fair to the press, they’ve done a fairly good job of holding the Prime Minister to account over this. In a keynote speech to them today, Theresa May was forced to concede that the Brexit dividend would not be enough for the increase in funding, tersely suggesting that “taxpayers will have to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way to support the NHS we all use.”
Yet some have seen through May’s seemingly naive actions. With two clear and opposing camps within her own party, she has had to waddle through negotiations whilst trying to please both rabid Brexiteers and ardent Remainers. This has led to her, despite denying it on many occasions, putting the interests of her party firmly before those of the country.
May does not believe in the so-called Brexit dividend – rather, she has announced the policy simply to hand a propaganda coup to the right-wing, hard-Brexit wing of her party to fob them off with a win. It was an announcement timed to perfection – one that now conveniently allows hard-Brexiteers to crow about a massive victory just before the Prime Minister enters the toughest part of Brexit negotiations where she will almost certainly be forced to make increasingly desperate, and incredibly divisive concessions:
May’s Brexit Dividend has not been announced out of goodwill to Boris or Gove – it’s a pre-emptive gesture of defeat for the UK Government.
It is a move that strongly suggests the Tories may well be set to yield to the European Union in numerous areas during the upcoming negotiations – and on a far broader scale than the current concessions they have already made to Brussels, and a scale that will almost certainly infuriate the hard-Brexiteers within her own party.
May’s Brexit Dividend gesture, then, seemingly aims to ensure the staunch Brexiteers may have no choice but to bite their tongues during future talks and accept a ‘Brexit in name only’.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 17, 2018
Whilst Boris Johnson clearly enjoyed May’s announcement, he’s yet to realise May has simply kicked the can down the road again in order to postpone the inevitably catastrophic, long-anticipated clash of warring Conservative EU tribes.
From sparring with her own Cabinet over Cannabis to having to deal with the consequences of having an MP adverse to banning ‘upskirting’, age-old cracks are beginning to gape uncontrollably within the Tory Party. Surely, for Theresa May and the Tories, it’s only a matter of time before they fall.