As Britain comes to terms with the fallout from Brexit, the NHS has been at the centre of the media agenda on the subject.
And the leading Brexit campaigner, Ian Duncan Smith, has distanced himself from a prominent pledge which was made during the referendum campaign.
It had been stated by those promoting a leave vote that the NHS could benefit from an additional £350 million worth of expenditure should Britain indeed actually exit the European Union.
During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave issued posters reading: “Let’s give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week.”
But Duncan Smith has stated that he never made any such claim, as the likelihood of such a figure being diverted to the NHS seems increasingly unlikely.
Although there has been a variety of claims and counter-claims made by the two sides both in the lead up and aftermath of the referendum, Duncan Smith has suggested that this figure could be misleading.
Commenting on the matter on the BBC, the former cabinet minister sought to indicate that he had never made any such claim.
“I never said that during the course of the election. The £350m was an extrapolation of the £19.1bn – that’s the total amount of money we gave across to the European Union. What we actually said was a significant amount of it would go to the NHS. It’s essentially down to the government, but I believe that is what was pledged and that’s what should happen. There was talk about it going to the NHS, but there are other bits and pieces like agriculture, which is part of the process. That is the divide up. It was never the total.”
As the climate following Brexit begins to calm down somewhat, Duncan Smith indicated that his comments do not constitute a broken promise, indicating that the majority of the £350 million figure would be made available for the UK government to spend on some form of public services.
“The lion’s share of that money, the government is now able to spend. So people can say that there is more money available now for the NHS – categorically more, which is what’s required and that’s the key point.”
Other key Brexit figures have also come forward to make the same disclaimer, indicating that the £350 million figure should never have been promoted in the first place.
Speaking hours after the result of Thursday’s referendum was announced, the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, said he could not promise money spent on the EU would instead go to the NHS. “I would never have made that claim, and it was one of the mistakes that the leave campaign made. You must understand, I was ostracised by the official leave campaign and I did – as I always do – my own thing.”