Britain paid some £13 billion to the EU last year, once the £5 billion rebate, which is applied straight away, is taken away from the total gross contribution of about £18 billion. Were we to leave, we might have to pay a fee to enter the Single Market and we might not. But, either way, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are right to point out that, in the event of Brexit, as much as that £13 billion could be spent on the NHS, in the event of the Government of the day deciding to do so. The Leave campaign knows that this argument resonates with many of the key voters it needs to reach, especially Labour-leaning voters who will be crucial to the result.
None the less, Leave and Remain-supporting Conservatives alike should remember that the world will not end on June 23rd – whatever result the referendum delivers. British politics will roll on towards a general election in 2020. So we all have to give some thought to what will happen between the end of June and then. Pointing out that more money would be available for the NHS were Britain to leave the EU is one thing. Trashing the Government’s record on healthcare, which includes ring-fencing the NHS and a programme of quiet reform, would be quite another. Labour Leave campaigners will undoubtedly do so. But this site’s message to Tory ones is: handle with care.