Yorkshire MPs have joined dozens of their cross-party colleagues in demanding an extra £350 million a week in post-Brexit funding for the NHS.
The appeal, based on the high-profile pledge by the Vote Leave campaign, has been described as a chance for pro-Brexit ministers to pay up or “or admit that they can’t”.
A total of 41 MPs have signed a letter to the Chancellor, demanding that the funding commitment is included in next month’s Autumn Statement. They argue it was a key motivation in people’s decision to vote leave, and that the Government has a mandate to deliver on it.
Halifax MP Holly Lynch is among five Yorkshire MPs to add their names to the letter. She told the Yorkshire Post that the core message is about trust and “making sure all MPs are accountable when they make promises to people”.
“The £350 million was the one big pledge that the Vote Leave campaign really did ram down people’s throats,” she said. “This letteris a means of exposing that [ministers] have now got to deliver on it or admit that they can’t .
“Some of those people who did make this commitment... are the people who will now be taking a lead in Brexit negotiations.
”We need to know that they’re trustworthy... they deliver this or admit that they were wrong.”
The £350 million pledge was a central part of the Vote Leave campaign, and took pride of place on the group’s campaign bus. It was based on the UK’s average weekly contribution to the EU, but the campaign came under fire for failing to deduct Britain’s £74 million rebate.
More than £100 million of the remaining £276 million is paid back in the form of farming, research and regional infrastructure funds. Fellow signatory Angela Smith said it was vital the Government meets the NHS commitment, without affecting payments to these other sectors.
“We saw the three Brexiteer cabinet ministers [Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis] all quite clearly committing themselves to the argument that there would be an extra £350 million for the NHS if we left the EU,” she told the paper.
“It’s for them to tell us how they’re going to meet that, while at the same time ensuring other parts of the economy... don’t pay the price.
“I think what the Brexiteers did was very cynically use people’s commitment to the NHS to pledge extra funding for it that didn’t exist.
“But Theresa May has given the three key Brexit posts to these [MPs]... so clearly her signal is that she has given them responsibility for fulfilling the promises they made.”
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron and Wakefield MP Mary Creagh also signed the Vote Leave Watch letter, alongside Chuka Umunna, Norman Lamb and Caroline Lucas.
Their appeal came as fellow Yorkshire MPs Hilary Benn and Dame Rosie Winterton pressed the Prime Minister on her plans for EU negotiations, following last week’s meeting of the European Council.
Ms Winterton asked whether the Government has plans to publish regional impact assessments on Brexit, while Mr Benn sought assurances that MPs will be given time to scrutinise any negotiating objectives. Mrs Mayreplied that Parliament will have “every opportunity to consider the various issues involved”.
The Treasury was approached for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.