REFERENDUM campaigners traded blows over whether Britain sends £350m a week to the EU amid claims of lying and “fantasy”.
Vote Leave’s Boris Johnson was told he was perpetuating a lie by leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon during ITV’s Live Referendum Debate on Thursday night.
She told the former mayor of London that she was astounded that Vote Leave were continuing to use the £350m figure on the side of their distinctive red campaign bus after it had been discredited by the statistics authority.
She said: “It is a scandal that is emblazoned across the campaign bus because it’s an absolute whopper!”
Mr Johnson responded: “It’s perfectly true.”
He was backed on the panel by Gisella Stuart, a Labour MP voting for Brexit, who insisted £350m is the amount handed over the the EU from Britain every week.
However the cross-party claim was dismissed by shadow business secretary Angela Eagle representing Labour In for Britain during the debate, who accused Mr Johnson of lying and remarked “get that lie off your bus!”.
Squabbling over financial details were emblematic of the live TV debate that pitched three politicians in favour of remain against three wanting to leave the EU.
Mr Johnson was the only male on the panel and was backed by Ms Stuart and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. The remain trio were Ms Eagle, Ms Sturgeon and Conservative Eneregy Secretary Amber Rudd - who said Mr Johnson was fronting a fantasy, as the EU makes Britain money.
The benefits of the EU on the NHS was another hot topic with Mr Johnson insisting that EU migration rules mean that the service struggles to employ the right kind of skilled migrants.
Citing the shortage of paramedics in London, he said: “That is a concrete example of how the system is unfair.”
The NHS was forced to recruit a large number of Australian paramedics, which came with significant burreaucracy - all because the EU migrant workforce could not fill the skills gap, he said.
He said: “At the moment we’ve got nurses from the Philippines who cannot come into the country as we need them for our NHS, which is crazy.”