British Prime Minister Theresa May confidently stated that her government can dedicate 20 Billion British Pounds for the National Health Service (NHS) once the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union takes effect. According to May, the increase in healthcare funding will come from former contributions and fees paid out to the EU plus select tax increases:
“As we leave the European Union and stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels, we will have more money to spend on priorities like the NHS. But to give the NHS the funding it needs for the future, this Brexit dividend will not be enough. As a country, we need to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way.”
The question for parliament and the British people is: Would the 20 Billion British Pound increase in funding be feasible for the country? Many people viewed the statement with scepticism; questioning the sources of funding and if leaving the EU would really translate to significant savings.
May’s claim may appear ambitious. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Brexit would weaken public finances by an estimated 15 billion pounds every year after the U.K. leaves the E.U. The report further disclosed that any cost savings would be used to cover the cost of leaving the E.U.
May issued her statement in the absence of any validated report from her Finance Minister. She said detailed plans on government spending would be disclosed next year. May also assured the public that additional taxes would be decided in a “fair and balanced” way.
The NHS was established to give the British people free access to healthcare. However, any change in fiscal policy that involves tax increases may run contrary to May’s tight handling of finances. Emily Thornberry, Labour Party Foreign Affairs spokeswoman expressed scepticism but welcomed May to make it work:
“I’d certainly welcome it, if I could believe it. Let’s see what they deliver. How are they going to pay for it?”
Critics of PM May share the opinion that the timing of the message was questionable. It came at the anniversary of the NHS. The announcement may have more political intent than economic validity. 48% of Britons voted to remain in the EU and are still unsure if Brexit was the right choice.
The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU will take effect on 29 March 2019. Proponents of Brexit claimed the U.K. was paying the E.U. 350 Million pounds a week and argued the money should be used for the NHS instead.