The Liberal Democrats have revealed that Brexit is already costing the government £380-£470 million a week – money that could have been spent on the NHS instead.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that GDP is £55–£66 billion lower this year than it would have been without Brexit, mainly due to uncertainty deterring business investment. Business investment in the UK has fallen by 3% since the end of 2017, whereas other G7 countries have seen it grow.
Based on the IFS figures, the Lib Dems have calculated that public sector receipts (which are 37% of GDP) are £20.3–24.3 billion lower this year than they would have been, which equates to £380–470 million a week.
The claims and counter claims about the NHS in this election can be traced all the way back to Boris’s big red Brexit bus and the now widely discredited claim that leaving the EU would give the NHS £350,000,000 a week.
At the same time, the number of GP practices has fallen to a new record low of 6,867 while the number of qualified GPs has dropped by 339, according to NHS figures. Meanwhile, the number of EU nationals coming to the UK has also fallen to its lowest level since March 2013, stoking further fears of a winter NHS crisis.
And a survey by the Health Foundation has found two-thirds of people want an increase in taxes to improve health and social care. This is in line with the Liberal Democrats' policy of putting a penny on income tax to raise an additional £7 billion of funding a year for the NHS and social care.
The survey also found widespread public concern about the threat posed by Brexit, including staffing shortfalls caused by EU doctors and nurses leaving the UK.
Our parliamentary candidate, Paul Zukowskyj, said: “This report shows that the Brexit effect is already costing us upwards of £350 million pounds and we have not even left yet.
“Already when people turn for help, too often help is not there. For the first time ever, the average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks, our cancer survival rates are below the European average, and we have one of the worst rates of depression in the EU.
“A vote for Boris on Thursday is a vote for more of the same, with Brexit putting even more of a strain on our NHS. That’s why every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Boris, stop Brexit and invest the £50 billion Remain Bonus from higher economic growth to build a brighter future.”
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to put 1p on income tax from April 2020, with the revenue ringfenced for the NHS and social care. This is forecast to raise £35.1 billion over the next five years, with £11.2 billion of that money being ringfenced for mental health services, over 30% of money raised. We will also use part of our £100 billion capital fund to make necessary investments in hospitals, other buildings and equipment.