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‘£350 million a week for the NHS’ – a Leave campaign lie [Image: BBC].

A website entitled Open Britain has provided a handy guide to some of the promises that were made by ‘Leave’ campaigners in the run-up to the EU referendum.

This Writer thought it would be worth re-publishing them, now that Brexit negotiations are under way, so we can all follow progress and tick off those promises as they are met!

Or not.

In fact, we already know that some of these promises are complete hogwash.

For example: New trade deals with other countries and power blocs won’t be in place immediately after the UK leaves the EU. The EU has made it clear that the UK may not start to negotiate any such deals until after it has left.

And what about the vexed issue of border controls with the Republic of Ireland?

In fact, I would like to open this up to all of you.

Read the list below. If you can provide proof that supports – or refutes – these claims, please send it in and I will add it to the article.

Let’s keep this going as the negotiations continue, so we can see for ourselves exactly how accurate – or not – the Brexiteers’ claims turn out to be.

Here are some of those claims that were made:

UK-EU trade

1.     Negotiate new trade deals with the US, China, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and others which would immediately take effect on EU exit. “After we Vote Leave, we would immediately be able to start negotiating new trade deals with emerging economies and the world’s biggest economies (the US, China and Japan, as well as Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and so on), which could enter into force immediately after the UK leaves the EU.” Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016

2.     Create 284,000 new UK jobs through new trade deals with USA, Japan, ASEAN, India and Mercosur“In the last few years, the EU has sought to complete five key trade deals, with the USA, Japan, ASEAN, India and Mercosur. Because of protectionism in other European countries, the EU has failed to get a trade deal with any of these countries. When we Vote Leave we will be able to do trade deals with all of these countries much more quickly. According to the EU’s own figures this will create 284,000 new jobs in the UK”.  Vote Leave press release, 12 May 2016

3.     Trade with the EU will not be harmed. “Our trade will almost certainly continue with the EU on similar to current circumstances…The reality is that the hard-headed, pragmatic businessmen on the continent will do everything to ensure that trade with Britain continues uninterrupted.” David Davis, speech, 26 May 2016

“The EU’s supporters say ‘we must have access to the Single Market’. Britain will have access to the Single Market after we vote leave”. Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave?

“there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market”, Boris Johnson, The Telegraph, 26 June 2016

“It should be win-win for us and it will be if we vote to leave and we can maintain free trade, stop sending money and also have control of our borders”, Michael Gove, BBC, 8 May 2016

“The idea that our trade will suffer…is silly”, Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave

Anglo-Irish relationship

4.     No border controls in Ireland. “Nor is there any prospect of security checks returning to the border. The common travel area between the UK and Ireland predates our EU membership and will outlast it. The unique status Irish citizens are accorded in the UK predates EU membership and will outlast it. There is no reason why the UK’s only land border should be any less open after Brexit than it is today.” Theresa Villiers, Vote Leave press releases, 14 April 2016

5.     Free movement for Irish citizens to work in Britain. “The right of Irish citizens to enter, reside and work in the UK is already enshrined in our law. This will be entirely unaffected by a vote to leave on 23 June.” Vote Leave press release, 1 June 2016 

Education, science and research

6.     Hundreds of new schools: “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy:…hundreds of new schools” Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube

7.     More primary school places in our current schools: “Just 2.4% of our gross EU contributions could eliminate the shortfall in school places in England. It has been estimated that as many as 100,000 parents will miss their first preference for primary school places…The £461.2m needed to fund the additional 100,000 school places is just over a week’s worth of contributions to the EU”. Vote Leave press release, 18 April 2016

8.     More spending on scientific research “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy:…pioneering health and scientific research”. Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube


9.     A points-based immigration system. “Asylum and Immigration Control Bill…The Bill would end the discrimination against non-EU citizens and create a genuine points-based immigration system in which the possession of suitable skills is a key element.” Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016

10.     Higher immigration from non-EU countries. “we are now forced to block people from non-European countries who could contribute to the UK from coming here. This is an immoral, expensive, and out of control system.” Vote Leave briefing


11.     More health spending. “Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”. Vote Leave website

12.     Raise pay for junior doctors. “A small fraction of the money that the EU takes from us each year could be used to give junior doctors the pay settlement they are looking for”. Gisela Stuart, Vote Leave press release, 25 April 2016

13.     Abolish prescription charges. “If we Vote Leave we will be able to stop handing over so much money to the EU and we would be able to spend our money on priorities here in the UK like abolishing prescription charges”. Gisela Stuart, Vote Leave press release, 5 April 2016

14.     Building new hospitals. “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy: state of the art hospitals”. Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube

Public spending commitments

15.     Maintain all current EU spending. “There is more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU – including universities, scientists, family farmers, regional funds, cultural organisations and others – will continue to do so while also ensuring that we save money that can be spent on our priorities. If the public votes to leave on 23 June, we will continue to fund EU programmes in the UK until 2020, or up to the date when the EU is due to conclude individual programmes if that is earlier than 2020.” Joint letter from Vote Leave ministers, Vote Leave press release, 14 June 2016,

16.     More public support for agriculture. “‘Let’s get one thing straight.  The UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support – or perhaps even more – as they get now.’” George Eustice, Vote Leave press release, 23 March 2016,

17.     New roads. “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy:…we could build new roads”. Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube

18.     Improving railways. “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy:…improve the railways”. Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube

19.     Expanding regional airports. “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy:…expand regional airports”Vote Leave, Take Control, YouTube

20.     Reversing changes to tax credits. “The controversial tax credit bill that was rejected by the House of Lords last week would have provided the Treasury with £4.4bn worth of savings. Here’s an idea, George – when we leave the EU, you’ll be able to fill that hole in EU membership fee savings’. Leave.EU Facebook, 2 November 2014

21.     Paying state aid to the steel industry. “Imagine if we Vote Leave… we will be able to end unfair state aid rules, and support struggling industries like Steel”. Vote Leave Campaign News, 10 February 2016

22.     New submarines. “even if we acknowledge the rebate and the sums already spent here, £10.6 billion of taxpayers money is given to the EU in a year…Just think what we could do with this money… It could pay for fourteen Astute Class Submarines”. Michael Gove, Vote Leave press release, 19 April 2016

23.     Protecting Research Grants. “We are not talking about scrapping any sory [sic] of funding when it comes to subsidies for farmers or research grants for universities or any other sort of EU funding”. Matthew Elliott, Yorkshire Post, 20 November 2015

24.     A “British DARPA”. “you have a chunk of money which you immediately save which you can put into it. You can set up a British DARPA”. Dominic Cummings, The Economist, 21 January 2016

25.     Pothole repairs. “The EU has spent £264 million on just four bridges in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, more than the £250 million that is forecast to be spent on the UK’s Pothole Action Fund in the next five years. After we Vote Leave, we can spend our money on our priorities like fixing our roads. Taxpayers’ money should be spent on filling in potholes in Britain, rather than being squandered on foreign bridges to nowhere”Vote Leave Campaign Email, 2 February 2016

Rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK

26.     EU citizens already resident in Britain will have the right to remain here. “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present”. Statement by Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart, 1 June 2016


27.     Continue and deepen cooperation with the EU on science and counter-terrorism. “In particular, we will negotiate a UK-EU Treaty that enables us 1) to continue cooperating in many areas just as now (e.g. maritime surveillance), 2) to deepen cooperation in some areas (e.g. scientific collaborations and counter-terrorism)”. Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave?

Tax cuts

28.     Lower taxes: “If you are still wondering what it will look like if we came out, think about this:…lower taxes as a result of no longer having to pay into the EU budget”. Vote Leave press release, 6 January 2016

29.     Lower business taxes: “there are areas where government spending is a detriment to an efficient economy since it wastes money which could be going towards helping businesses which creates jobs and income. I think that the billions we spend on our EU contributions and the foreign aid budget would be a good place to start”. Nigel Farage, SunNation, 8 April 2015

30.     Cut VAT on fuel: “A special Finance Bill. This would abolish the 5% rate of VAT on household energy bills by the date of the next general election by amending the Value Added Tax Act 1994, and will be a major benefit for low income households. This will be paid for by savings from the UK’s contributions to the EU budget.” Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016

31.     Reducing council tax: “Without our EU budget contributions, we could give everyone a 60 per cent council tax cut.” Daniel Hannan, Twitter, 1 September 2015

32.     Reclaim billions in tax avoidance. “The EU may be good for some big multi-national businesses, but the truth is it’s bad for smaller firms and UK taxpayers. People will be shocked that big business is taking British taxpayers to court in Europe where unelected judges are overruling the decisions of our parliament on tax rules – costing us all billions. That’s on top of the £350 million we already hand over to Brussels every single week. We need to Vote Leave to stop this abuse. And this is no small matter – there are staggering amounts involved in these cases.” Priti Patel, Vote Leave press release, 10 April 2016

33.     Abolish VAT on tampons: “’After we Vote Leave the public need to see that there is immediate action to take back control from the EU. We will need a carefully managed negotiation process and some major legislative changes before 2020, including taking real steps to limit immigration, to abolish VAT on fuel and tampons”Chris Grayling, Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016


34.     Wages will rise. “The NHS will be stronger, class sizes smaller and taxes lower. We’ll have more money to spend on our priorities, wages will be higher and fuel bills will be lower”, Statement by Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart for The Sun – Vote Leave to cut VAT on fuel, 31 May 2016

The United Kingdom

35.     A stronger Union. “If we vote to leave then I think the union will be stronger…  I think when we vote to leave it will be clear that having voted to leave one union the last thing people in Scotland wanted to do is to break up another.” Michael Gove, BBC, 8 May 2016

Workers’ rights

36.     Existing employment rights will be protected. “All of the EU legislation we have accepted since Tony Blair took us into the social chapter has been incorporated into UK law and will remain in place if we vote to leave. Any decision to simplify or change any of those laws would need voters’ consent. Our public holidays will also be protected and maternity and paternity leave will stay.” Andrea Leadsom and Gisela Stuart, The Times, 14 June 2016

“Let me be clear, very clear, on employment rights and the protection of workers’ rights that we are not looking to change those. So I will emphasise that again this evening. Those rights are enshrined by parliament, and which government would want to change that quite frankly? Supporting workers’ rights is absolutely the right thing to do and that’s part of our values that we have.” Priti Patel, Telegraph debate, 1 June 2016

Britain’s new relationship with Europe

37.     A new UK-EU treaty by the end of 2018. “Given that all the big issues have already been solved over the years between the EU and countries around the world, and there is already a free trade zone stretching from Iceland to the Russian border, the new UK-EU Treaty should be ready within two years. In many areas we will continue existing arrangements at least for a while. Obviously the relationship will change and improve over time but a main goal for the first phase is to avoid unnecessary disruption. All the important elements of a new Treaty should be in place well before the next election.” Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave?

38.     Construction of a new European institutional architecture. “We will build a new European institutional architecture that enables all countries, whether in or out of the EU or euro, to trade freely and cooperate in a friendly way.” Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave?

Source: Leave campaigners try to drop their false promises – Open Britain

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