Firstly, I must establish that I personally did not support the decision by the Leave campaign in early 2016 to print in big bold lettering on a red bus that the UK would/could invest an extra £350 million per week in the NHS. In fact, even though I had decided to vote Leave, I was so unimpressed by the pre-Referendum debate that I wanted no part in it. Weak I know, but I was very disappointed that it clashed with and completely ruined the Welsh General Election which was held at roughly the same time. Don’t feel guilty if you didn’t notice the Welsh Election. You are probably in the majority.
There has been a huge amount of criticism of this bus pledge. I’ve always thought it was not actually a lie, in that when the UK no longer has to pay into the EU budget, and if all of the money were to be allocated to the NHS it would fund £350million per week. But I also thought it unlikely that all the money would actually go to the NHS. There would be so many other demands.
But it’s not a normal position. The nation is still very divided. Huge numbers still think the bus pledge delivered the Leave vote. Personally I completely disagree with that. If the bus had said £150 million per week, it would have had the same impact, and no-one could have argued. But the reality we face is that many people think the Leave vote was based on a lie. Keyboard warriors, who have little interest in truth, have had a field day.
For quite a while I’ve thought the Govt should bite the bullet and consider committing to investing an extra £350 million per week in the NHS. Because I’m a PPS I’ve been reluctant to say anything, because it’s not actually Govt policy. But a Treasury PPS has contemplated the very same in today’s Telegraph. So No reason why I can5 do the same. And it’s only conjecture anyway.
Of course there’s the big obvious downside. Any Brexit bonus should be allocated to several budgets, based on need. But the unremitting focus by those who supported Remain on what’s claimed to be the bus message lie is enough for me. It would totally undermine the most continueing bone of contention. Maybe we have reached the time for the dramatic strike.