In the latest ‘Project Fear’ example, the Conservative Health Secretary has claimed the economic shock of leaving the European Union (EU) would leave a damaged National Health Service (NHS) lacking staff and vital investment.
Polling suggests most voters believe that the NHS could improve if Britain elects to leave the EU, with Britain’s financial contributions to the politico-economic bloc being better spent on building hospitals.
It has also been argued that uncontrolled immigration puts undue pressure on public services already close to breaking point, with the likes of pro-Brexit Conservative MP Stewart Jackson saying:
“Jeremy Hunt has to explain how uncontrolled EU migration and Turkish EU accession will help an overstretched NHS on his watch and afterwards.”
Nevertheless, in what Mr. Jackson described as one of “No. 10’s puerile scares”, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured above) wrote an article for Sunday’s Observer newspaper claiming that in the wake of Britain voting to leave the EU the country would face “a period of economic uncertainty and volatility” representing “a real challenge to the NHS”.
Somewhat bizarrely Mr. Hunt sought to make his point by citing the fact that “according to the [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy all cut health spending per head following the economic crisis” – an economic crisis which economists argue was made worse for those countries because of their EU membership.
Hunt's quoting of various countries where GDP dipped in the €zone crisis in a pro-Remain argument is…"courageous":https://t.co/mWJETYLDte
— Andrew Lilico (@andrew_lilico) March 26, 2016
Mr. Hunt also claims that Brexit would mean some of the 100,000 skilled EU workers populating our health and social care system would be forced home over “uncertainties around visas and residency permits”, resulting in an “unpredictable impact on hard-pressed frontline services”.
The tweeted response from prominent Brexit supporter Dr. Liam Fox — a former Conservative Shadow Health Secretary and general practitioner — to Mr. Hunt’s piece was damning.
— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFoxMP) March 26, 2016
The responses of Mr. Jackson and Dr. Fox to Mr. Hunt’s article are the latest example of chaotic relations within the Conservative Party.
Further evidence of the party’s divided loyalties is given in The Telegraph, which says it was told by a senior Government source that the Prime Minister refuses to make eye contact with Eurosceptic colleagues, ignoring them as they pass in corridors.
Although Downing Street denied that accusation, Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday writes that “by common consent, Cameron is poor at massaging the egos of his allies”, and proving the point quotes a Downing Street insider saying:
“Trying to negotiate with the Eurosceptics is like trying to negotiate with [Islamic State].”