Theresa May appeared on the BBC’s Marr show on Sunday to talk about NHS funding and Brexit – claiming that her pledge of £20 billion in additional NHS cash was going to be funded, at least in part, by a ‘Brexit dividend’: the supposed saving the UK will make by not paying subs to the EU.
This is ‘magical thinking’ of the worst kind, as the Office for Budget Responsibility – the official government source – estimates that the UK will be £15 billion worse off.
But even if May could find that cash from some Brexit bonus, it would represent not only a serious cut in NHS resources compared to the historical average for annual NHS funding increases – but also a huge shortfall compared to the increases that serious sources say the NHS needs to stand still, let alone recover.
Marr has been widely lambasted for failing to challenge May directly on the fallacy of her funding source, although he did cover this in the studio with his guests to a degree – but to be fair to him he did challenge May about the inadequacy of her supposed boost in funding, before letting her move too easily to falsely blaming winter pressures and our elderly for daring to live longer.
Seen in context, May’s interview amounted to an admission that her plans – for all their dressing-up as some kind of rescue package – actually mean that the Tories plan to deepen the NHS crisis for at least the next five years:
The NHS is still considered the nation’s greatest treasure by the vast majority of the public – but the misleading presentation of the causes of its crisis and of the Tories’ supposed support for our health service mean that we are like the frog that was boiled slowly and didn’t think to jump until it was too late.
Awareness is everything – because the Tories’ claims fall apart like a tissue-paper suit when examined properly.
But they won’t get that from mainstream media all too ready to let her put the blame elsewhere.
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