Johnson ready to fast-track health funding to meet Brexit pledge


FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the first meeting of the National Policing Board at the Home Office in London, Britain July 31, 2019. Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will fast-track funding for Britain’s public health service, announcing 1.8 billion pounds to upgrade 20 hospitals, part of the new leader’s push to meet Brexit pledges made in the 2016 referendum.

Johnson, a figurehead for the “Leave” campaign, promoted the idea that Britain could spend 350 million pounds a week on the National Health Service after Brexit, often photographed next to the slogan on a “Vote Leave” bus.

The new prime minister is trying to go some way to meet those pledges as quickly as possible, a bid to restore some of the trust in politicians that has been eroded in the three years since the referendum that deeply divided the country.

“Which is why I am so determined to deliver now on the promises of that 2016 referendum campaign: not just to honour the will of the people, but to increase the cash available for this amazing national institution,” he wrote in the Sunday Times.

“It is thanks to this country’s strong economic performance that we are now able to announce 1.8 billion pounds more for the NHS to buy vital new kit and confirm new upgrades for 20 hospitals across the country.”

A source confirmed earlier that the government was planning to bring forward an earlier commitment made by his predecessor Theresa May to give the National Health Service (NHS) an additional 20 billion pounds by 2023.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by David Evans

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