Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has faced heavy criticism from within his own party over his decision to confront the PM with a demand for £100 million a week for the NHS after Brexit.
During the referendum campaign in 2016, Boris infamously claimed that if the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, it would “take back control” of £350 million a week. This was obviously a very persuasive argument for undecided voters and was displayed on the side of Vote Leave’s ‘battle bus’. Given the highly publicised struggles the NHS has gone through in recent years, with emergency room waiting lists and overall bureaucratic inefficiency, Johnson’s figure was a way to fix the NHS’ pressing issues.
The UK Statistics Authority called the figure “a clear misuse of official statistics”, as it included money not sent to Brussels at all and does not count EU funding in the UK. Boris has claimed that the figure is now even higher and will rise to £438 million.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond (Source: The Independent)
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has said that Johnson is “overstepping his role” as Foreign Secretary by making such demands public and pointed out that the “health secretary received an extra £6bn at the recent budget”.
Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, echoed Hammond’s sentiments that Johnson had gone too far with his comments, criticising him for “breaching collective responsibility and leaking Cabinet discussion”, as well as “pre-briefing your disagreement with Government policy ahead of Cabinet”. The feeling amongst many Conservatives is that Boris Johnson has sabotaged Cabinet and ultimately the Prime Minister by advancing his own agenda on Brexit before Government can settle on a unified strategy ahead of negotiations with the European Union.
Johnson speaks at Vote Leave rally in Newcastle in 2016 (Source: The Atlantic.com)
Anna Soubry MP, prominent Tory backbencher, tweeted that the “PM should have sacked Boris for longstanding incompetence and disloyalty”, and went on to call Johnson out for not resigning after the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British woman jailed in Iran who is accused of plotting to overthrow the regime, though she insists she and her young daughter were merely on a family visit when arrested in Tehran in 2016. Boris Johnson told the parliamentary committee that she was “simply teaching people journalism” in Iran, a comment she thinks potentially endangered her life, who used his comments to confirm she faced new charges of “propaganda against the regime”.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her family before her trip to Iran. (Source: Change.org)
The health secretary Jeremy Hunt backed Boris Johnson’s call for more NHS funding, but distanced himself from the exact figure of £100 million a week. Although he declined to speak about “the precise contents of a cabinet discussion”, unlike Boris, but also noted that no Health Secretary is going to be against the prospect of potential extra resources for his or her department.
When asked about where exactly the so-called £100million from Brexit will actually come from, he replied: “I think that’s a question you have to ask the Foreign Secretary.”