'There is a case' Liam Fox backs Boris Johnson's NHS funding plea

Posted on Jan 25 2018 - 3:19am by admin

Former doctor Liam Fox said there was “a case” to spend more on health and that he could not imagine the NHS not being a priority for any spare cash after Britain left the European Union.

But the International Trade Secretary declined to back Mr Johnson’s specific call for a £5billion NHS boost and he said spending decisions would be made by the government of the day in line with people’s priorities.

He spoke ahead of Commons clashes where Jeremy Corbyn told Theresa May she was “in denial” about the reality of NHS shortages but Mr Johnson was not.

On Tuesday the Foreign Secretary was pointedly rebuked by the Prime Minister for making it known before a Cabinet meeting about health that he would demand an extra £100million a week for the NHS.

At the ministers’ meeting, Mrs May then pre-empted Mr Johnson by making clear that any money saved by Brexit would go to the Government’s priorities, including schools and housing as well as health.

There was frustration among some of Mr Johnson’s ministerial and Tory colleagues, and even calls for him to be sacked, over his teams’ ill-disciplined pre-briefing about a behind-closed-doors meeting.

Dr Fox, who like Mr Johnson campaigned for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, said: “I think there is a case to spend more money on healthcare, and we are spending more money on healthcare.

“I think it’s very useful to remind people that we’re getting a dividend from leaving the EU.”

But Dr Fox also stressed: “Exactly how we spend the dividend that comes from leaving the EU will be determined by the priorities we face at the time.

“We will have control over more of the money. The Government at that time will be able to determine how we spend that money on the priorities that the British people have at that point.

“I find it absolutely unthinkable that health would not be amongst the top of those.”

Labour leader Mr Corbyn focused his Commons question time attack on the Prime Minister on reports about pressures on the NHS impacting on patients. Mr Johnson was away on official business so not in the chamber to see the clash.

As Mrs May insisted the Government was investing in the NHS and had ensured it was better prepared than ever for the pressures of winter, Mr Corbyn told her: “It needs money, it needs support and it needs it now.

“You are, frankly, in denial about the state of the NHS.

“Even the Foreign Secretary recognises it but you aren’t listening.

“When are you going to face up to the reality and take action to save the NHS from death by a thousand cuts?”

Mrs May told him: “There is only one part of the NHS that has seen a cut in its funding – it’s the NHS in Wales under a Labour government.

“This is a government that is backing the NHS plan, that is putting more money into the NHS, that is recruiting more doctors and nurses, that is seeing new treatments come on board which ensure people are getting the best treatment they need.”

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