Three years after the EU referendum Boris Johnson appears finally appears to have accepted his ‘£350 million a week’ claim about EU membership was wrong.
Standing in the House of Commons, the prime minister attacked Labour for refusing to vote for a general election and instead supporting a delay to Brexit.
He told MPs: “Opposition parties have been trying to disguise their preposterous cowardice by coming up with ever more outrageous excuses for delaying an election until the end of October, or perhaps November, or when hell freezes over, in the dither, delay and procrastination that has become the hallmark of the opposition. “Why are they conniving to delay Brexit, in defiance of the referendum, costing the country an extra £250 million a week for the privilege of delay — enough to upgrade more than five hospitals and train 4,000 new nurses? The only possible explanation is that they fear that we will win it, and I will win it, and secure a renewed mandate to take this country out of the EU, a policy they now oppose.”
Johnson went on to repeat his claim that EU membership cost £100 million less than he and Vote Leave had claimed on television, in leaflets and on the side of the infamous red bus.
MORE: Johnson and Gove should be in prison for Brexit referendum lies – Lord Sugar
He said: “I earlier urged the House to trust the people, but once again the opposition think they know better. They want the British prime minister to go to a vital negotiation without the power to walk away. They want to delay Brexit yet again, without further reference to those who voted for it, handing over to Brussels an extra £250 million a week for no purpose—enough to upgrade more than five hospitals or train 5,000 new nurses.”
Despite a rebuking from the then chair of the statistics authority, Johnson continue to make the claim that EU membership cost £350 million a week and that it could be better spent on the NHS.
Even the £250m figure – which works out at 30p per person per day – does not take into account the billions each year the UK receives back through schemes to fund poorer areas and farmers.
A court case even tried to get the prime minister and former foreign secretary imprisoned for telling lies about the true cost, but a judge threw the case out arguing it was not something for the courts to decide.
It is a claim that a study late last year found 42% of the public still appears to believe.
But now Johnson has tried to re-write history by reiterating the update figure in speeches and on social media.
Twitter users were quick to point out the u-turn from Johnson and the Tories.
Tory peer Baroness Altmann responded: “Hang on a minute. Wasn’t it £350m a week?!!”
Simon in Bath wrote: “2016: We send the EU £350m a week. 2019: it costs £250m a week. I don’t remember it being renegotiated so I think at least one of these numbers is wrong”.
Nicholas Jackson tweeted: “How much? What happened to £350m a week? Liar.”
Twitter user @LukeB_MTB said: “Not £350 million then? Never trust a bus.”
Last year Boris Johnson finally admitted that we were in control of our laws before Brexit, and claimed Theresa May’s deal would have meant for the first time parliament would not be able to.