May took a whistle-stop tour of the UK to mark one year to go until the UK’s EU departure date
During a whistle-stop tour of the UK to mark one year to go until the departure date, the Prime Minister raised the prospect of the cash saved from scrapping the annual £10billion membership fee payments made to Brussels being ploughed into cash-strapped hospitals and social care for the elderly.
“There’s going to be money that we would have been sending to the European Union that we’re going to be able to spend on priorities in the UK,” she said in a BBC interview during her series of visits in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Theresa May has previously resisted making promises about spending cash saved by quitting the European bloc and has distanced herself from the Vote Leave campaign’s demand for an extra £350million a week to be spent on the NHS in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum.
But earlier this week, she confirmed that the Government was planning a major overhaul of health funding to ensure a long-term settlement for the NHS.
And yesterday she acknowledged that savings from cancelling EU payments would form part of the increased cash injection.
“Of course when we leave the European Union we will no longer be sending vast sums of money year in, year out.
“So, there will be money available here in the UK for us to spend on our priorities – priorities like the NHS,” she said during the interview in Newcastle.
“We are going to look at a multi-year settlement, we are going to ensure, as we do that, we continue to take a balanced approach to our economy. We have got a long-term plan.”
She added: “What I’m clear about is we do want to a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS, and as I say a long term plan for the NHS, So that the NHS can have greater certainty, looking ahead to the future and can make plans, but there’s some reform will be needed as well.”
Mrs May also refused to rule out tax increases to provide extra money for the NHS, saying: “We will, as part of a normal processes, we will look at the funding. But we’ve got to look at the long term plan.”
Her one-day dash around the country was organised to give her the opportunity to meet workers and business leaders to discuss how Brexit will affect them.
Mrs started her day with a visit to a weaving firm in Ayr.
Later, she met families with young children at a parent and toddler centre at St Andrew’s Heddon-on-the-Wall, Newcastle.
Mrs May went on to a dairy farm on the outskirts of Belfast, sitting down for lunch in the farmhouse with representatives of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Later, she also toured the Aston Martin motor factory at St Athan in South Wales to talk to Welsh leaders about the country’s prospects outside the EU.
May toured the Aston Martin motor factory at St Athan in South Wales
We’re going into the detailed negotiation on the future economic partnership
Speaking to ITV Wales, she said: “Regardless of whether somebody voted leave or remain I think now is the time, and this is the message I get from most people, they want to come together and look to that future, look to it with optimism.
“Yes, we have still got work to do, but if you just think what’s happened over the first period of our negotiations, people were sceptical about whether we’d get agreement in December on the joint report on citizens’ rights, financial settlement – we got that.
“They were sceptical about whether we’d get the implementation period agreed which now gives that greater degree of certainty for businesses and people – we got that agreed.
“Now we’re going into the detailed negotiation on the future economic partnership.”
May visited a dairy farm on the outskirts of Belfast and had lunch with Ulster Farmers’ Union
Mrs May’s Brexit plans were boosted by new official figures yesterday showing Britain’s international trade is growing.
Data released from the Office for National Statistics shows in 2017, UK goods and services exports increased faster than imports – up 12.1% and 9.3%.
Non-EU countries continued to be the main destination for services exports (£171.4 billion), making up 61.3% of all services exports.
Overall, UK exports of goods and services increased by 12.1% to £622.1 billion last year.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “More than one year on since the EU referendum, there are strong reasons for the UK to be optimistic.
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“UK exports of goods and services have increased over the year and the UK deficit on trade in goods and services narrowed significantly.
“It’s clear evidence that UK companies are succeeding on the world stage, and as an international economic department we are banging the drum for the growing demand for our goods and services.”
Mrs May ended her tour last night by meeting a group of EU citizens living in the UK to reassure them they will still be welcome in the country after Brexit.
The Prime Minister made a visit to the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, west London.
The building was targeted by vandals just days after the EU Referendum in June 2016, with racist graffiti daubed on the outside of the building.