Brexit: Michael Gove claims infamous £350m a week for NHS promise ‘delivered’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has claimed that the infamous Brexit campaign promise about leaving the EU leading to £350 a week for the NHS had been “delivered”.

The levelling up secretary offered no evidence for his claim on a Brexit boost for the health service, as he recalled the notorious pledge on the side of the Vote Leave battle bus.

Mr Gove – one of the key Tory figures behind the official Leave campaign along with Boris Johnson – used his conference speech in Manchester to talk up Brexit benefits.

“Brexit has been delivered, and membership of the world’s fast growing trade block secured,” the senior minister said on the move to join the Indo-Pacific trade partnership.

Mr Gove added: “And there is now more than £350m extra a week for our NHS … Promise made, promise delivered.”

Brexit campaigners have never been able to substantiate the claim of extra money going to the NHS – a claim they made because of the contribution the UK made to the EU for being part of the single market and customs union.

The chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility said leaving the EU would likely cut GDP growth by 4 per cent, the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility – a £100bn loss.

Even Nigel Farage, part if the unofficial Leave EU campaign, later said he would “never have made that [NHS] claim” and it was “one of the mistakes” the official Vote Leave team made during the referendum.

Boris Johnson with the Vote Leave campaign bus (PA)
Boris Johnson with the Vote Leave campaign bus (PA)

Earlier this year a book claimed that senior BBC figure Sir Robbie Gibb told a news editor not to investigate the claim that Brexit would mean £350m a week going to the NHS.

Sir Robbie – the former No 10 comms chief who was editor of live politics programmes at the time of the referendum – was reportedly “horrified” at the idea of scrutinising the claim after the vote and urged colleagues to “move on”.

Rob Burley, former The Andrew Marr Show editor, made the claim in a new book about his time at the BBC. Sir Robbie told the author it was “just not true that politicians lie all the time £350 million was not a lie at all.”

Meanwhile, Mr Gove used his conference speech to accuse Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of being a “jellyfish of British politics” – saying he was “transparent, spineless and swept along by the tide”.

He also claimed the Tories would stop Labour “taking our fields, meadows, and forests away from our children” as he promised government housebuilding plans would protect nature.

The levelling up secretary said the Tories were “the party of beauty and nature” – despite telling the conference earlier this week he hoped to bring back plans to ditch river pollution rules for housebuilders.

He said the government would “build in the hearts of towns and cities and on brownfield land, because that cuts commuting times, revitalises high streets and protects the green belt”.