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Boris’s plan to divert EU cash to NHS ‘is being thwarted

Boris Johnson will use today’s meeting of the Cabinet to demand using the ‘Brexit dividend’ to give the NHS a £5billion annual cash injection.

The Foreign Secretary is said to have the backing for the move from a string of ministers, including Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling and international development secretary Penny Mordaunt.

Mr Johnson, whose campaign to leave the EU promised billions of pounds in extra funding for the NHS, has raised the issue with Theresa May in private on several occasions since the 2016 referendum.

But the move is being resisted by Downing Street and the Treasury. 

Mr Johnson’s plans to give the health service £100 million a week are being delayed to prevent him claiming a political victory, friends of the Foreign Secretary have warned. 

One source said it would be ‘premature’ to start spending a Brexit dividend which has not yet been finalised.

 

Plans to give the NHS a fresh cash injection are being delayed to prevent Boris Johnson (pictured) claiming a political victory, friends of the Foreign Secretary have warned

The PM’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell is said to have told Tory MPs there is no point trying to compete with Labour on health, where the Tories trail heavily in the polls.

One ally of Mr Johnson last night claimed some ministers were reluctant to link extra cash for the NHS to Brexit because they believed it would hand Mr Johnson ‘a win’.

‘We are delivering Brexit and we are going to have to give the NHS more money before the next election, whatever happens,’ he said.

‘Why not link the two and deliver on the promises made to leave voters? The only reason not to is to deny Boris a win.’

Another ally of the Foreign Secretary said he would continue to make the argument for more money for the NHS ‘until it happens’.

‘Boris believes that if the Tories are going to beat Corbyn at the next election they must make the NHS a top priority and deliver new funding,’ the source said.

Mr Johnson has raised the issue with Theresa May (pictured) in private on several occasions since the 2016 referendum

Mr Johnson has raised the issue with Theresa May (pictured) in private on several occasions since the 2016 referendum

‘Every poll conducted shows the NHS is top of swing voter concerns and every expert says it needs more money – the Cabinet will have to act and the sooner the better.

‘This isn’t about the referendum – it’s about delivering on the number one concern for the public and beating Corbyn at the next election.

‘Boris has a track record of winning and knows the Tories simply cannot afford to concede the NHS to Labour – which is why he will continue to make this argument until it happens.’

Former Tory vice-chairman Robert Halfon said it would be ‘madness’ to short-change the NHS for political reasons.

He added: ‘There’s an umbilical cord between the British public and the NHS. They want a government that puts the NHS first and foremost.’

 Mr Johnson will use today's meeting of the Cabinet to make the case for using the 'Brexit dividend' to hand the NHS an extra £100 million a week

 Mr Johnson will use today’s meeting of the Cabinet to make the case for using the ‘Brexit dividend’ to hand the NHS an extra £100 million a week

During the referendum, Mr Johnson famously campaigned in a red bus emblazoned with a slogan suggesting Brexit would release up to £350 million a week to spend on domestic priorities like the NHS.

One Cabinet rival said it was ‘not our job to keep Boris’s promises for him’.

And a Whitehall source said it was too early to start allocating cash from a Brexit dividend that had yet to be agreed.

‘It is premature,’ he said. ‘Boris has given quite a few figures on this – £350 million a week, £438 million and now £100 million. Once we have an idea of the figure we will be saving we will set out what we will do with it.

During the referendum, Mr Johnson famously campaigned in a red bus emblazoned with a slogan suggesting Brexit would release up to £350 million a week to spend on the NHS

During the referendum, Mr Johnson famously campaigned in a red bus emblazoned with a slogan suggesting Brexit would release up to £350 million a week to spend on the NHS

In the meantime, we are already getting on with giving the NHS more money – such as the £2.8 billion announced in the Budget.’

Meanwhile, Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames yesterday became the latest senior figure to urge No 10 to embrace a more radical agenda.

Sir Nicholas branded the government’s agenda ‘dull, dull, dull’ and called for a ‘brave and bold’ approach.

He added: ‘It really won’t be enough to get people to vote against (Corbyn). They must have really sound reasons to vote Conservative. We really need to get on with this.’

Last week, former planning minister Nick Boles said the government ‘constantly disappoints’ because of ‘timidity and lack of ambition’.

 



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