1011 GMT October 23, 2018
“We need to recognize the role of Parliament, but ensure that the government’s hands can’t be tied in negotiations and that Parliament does not overturn the will of the people,” May told the BBC, Reuters reported.
The British prime minister pledged on Sunday to increase funding for the National Health Service by 20 billion pounds ($26.57 billion) after Brexit, funded by money no longer spent on membership of the European Union and possible tax rises.
The announcement of more cash for the NHS, a regular issue at elections, comes after a row in Parliament over Brexit highlighted the fragility of May’s minority government.
May said spending in England would increase to an extra 20 billion pounds by 2023/24. The pledge drew immediate skepticism, with critics saying the plans lacked detail and questioning whether leaving the EU would actually save money.
“As we leave the European Union and stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels, we will have more money to spend on priorities like the NHS,” May said in a post on her Facebook account.
“But to give the NHS the funding it needs for the future, this Brexit dividend will not be enough. As a country, we need to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way.”
May said the spending increase was equivalent to a 3.4 percent funding increase in real terms. Independent experts say it needs even more than that to improve.
The idea of a “Brexit dividend” is also contested. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank highlighted government analysis showing public finances would weaken by 15 billion pounds per year after Brexit, and paying Britain’s EU divorce bill would eat up any savings initially.
In media interviews, May said her finance minister would set out plans before a government spending review expected next year. She said the increased contribution from taxpayers would be done in a “fair and balanced” way. She did not answer directly when asked whether borrowing might increase.
The announcement was timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which delivers free access to care for everyone living in Britain. It aims to foster unity in the government and the country after two years of bitter divisions over Brexit.
But it is also seen as a political risk. During eight years in power, May’s Conservative Party has made fiscal discipline its core message. Any departure that involves tax increases could upset core voters and open it up to criticism from the opposition Labour Party.