London (AFP) – Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday promised a major funding boost for Britain’s state-run National Health Service, using money currently sent to the EU.
The premier said that by the financial year 2023-2024, an extra £20 billion ($26.5 billion, 23 billion euros) a year would be going into the NHS.
“As we leave the European Union and stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels, we will have more money to spend on priorities such as the NHS,” May wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
In the 2016 referendum, claims plastered on the official Leave campaign’s battle bus about a Brexit dividend for the NHS proved some of the most contentious.
“We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead,” said the slogan, infuriating the Remain campaign which bitterly disputed the figures.
Under May’s plans, to be announced more fully on Monday, the NHS budget will increase compared to now by more than £20 billion a year in real terms — approximately £600 million a week.
But she said the Brexit dividend would not be enough on its own and the country would “need to contribute a bit more”, with finance minister Philip Hammond due to set out the tax increase details.
The increase would also be tied to efficiency reforms.
The NHS marks its 70th anniversary this year.