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Tory dismisses Brexit dividend as 'tosh'

By Shaun Connolly

Prime Minister Theresa May's insistence that a "Brexit dividend" will help boost NHS funding by £384m a week has been branded "tosh" by a senior Tory MP.

Commons Health Committee chairwoman Sarah Wollaston said she was sad to see the Government "slide to populist arguments" as people were being "treated like fools".

The sharp intervention came after the PM has said the NHS will receive an additional £20bn a year in real terms funding by 2024, meaning a weekly increase of £384m in real terms, and £600m a week in cash terms compared with now.

Ms Wollaston tweeted: "The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools. Sad to see Govt slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issue. This will make it harder to have a rational debate about the 'who & how' of funding & sharing this fairly."

Referring to controversial promises made by the Leave campaign during the referendum, Mrs May told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "Some people may remember seeing a figure on the side of a bus a while back of £350m a week in cash.

"Well, I can tell you what I am announcing will mean that in 2023-24, there will be about £600m a week in cash, more in cash, going into the NHS."

Mrs May said the money, which would not be used for social care, would amount to an increase of 3.4%, and said the country would also have to "contribute a bit more" to health service funding.

Asked where the non-'Brexit dividend' element of the funding would come, Mrs May said: "As a country we will be contributing more, a bit more, but also we will have that sum of money that is available from the European Union."

It is expected that taxes and borrowing will rise to pay for the increase in funding, and resources will be redirected from the more than £9bn a year the UK currently pays into the EU.

The move comes as Mrs May faces another turbulent week in Parliament on the Brexit front. Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "After eight years of Tory cuts and privatisation, the NHS and social care are in crisis.

"Today's announcement on funding is nowhere near good enough and the Prime Minister has confirmed there is no new money for social care. This falls far short of the 4% that experts say the NHS needs, it is just a standstill, and the Tories are refusing to say where the money will come from.

"You can't trust the Tories with the NHS."

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