Politics

This Vote Leave ad about NHS waiting times has not aged well

Related video: Keir Starmer denies changing Brexit stance to appeal to Leave voters

Sky News

Once again, promises of a post-Brexit utopia have aged pretty badly seven years down the line.

An advert from the 2016 Vote Leave machine has resurfaced in recent days amid skyrocketing NHS waiting times and strikes by nurses.

Adopting a side-by-side approach showing two possible circumstances inside and outside the European Union (EU), the two-minute clip follows a woman and her older mother – the latter of whom has a pretty bad cough – getting seen at A&E.

On the left (inside the EU, apparently), the pair navigate crowded corridors and waiting rooms, tired receptionists and a wait which sees other patients seen by medical professionals first, causing the older woman to become increasingly agitated.

Meanwhile, on the right (outside the EU, apparently), the duo sit in an almost empty waiting area, meet smiling staff and sit on a hospital bed for examination after only a short wait.

A female voiceover then comes in and points out that our NHS is “at breaking point”.

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“Every week the UK pays £350 million to be part of the EU. That’s £350 million that could build one new hospital every week, £350 million that could be spent supporting our doctors and nurses.

“Now is your chance to take back control and spend our money on our priorities, like the NHS,” she says.

Yes, the advert even regurgitated the incorrect and infamous £350 million line, which was criticised as a “clear misuse of official statistics,” which was found to “confuse gross and net contributions” by the UK Statistics Authority.

Oh, and almost seven years later, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has had to reaffirm his commitment to the NHS in his first speech of 2023 – one which saw him set out his five priorities for the year ahead.

“Your priorities are my priorities,” he said, as if both patients and nurses alike weren’t crying out for more financial and governmental support for the NHS already in previous years.

Amid the current crisis, several Twitter users have reshared the Vote Leave ad and contrasted it with the present reality.

One wrote in December: “As critical incidents are now declared at NHS trusts nationwide; as waiting lists, ambulance and A&E waits reach record lengths; as nurses strike or leave the profession in their thousands; remember this staggering video by Vote Leave.

“See the lies then. See the truth now.”

Jim Pickard, the Financial Times’ chief political correspondent, said it “must be one of the most cursed political videos ever”, while ARD foreign correspondent Annette Dittert wrote it was “striking to look at it now”.

Pun possibly intended.

Journalist and playwright Tim Walker concluded: “Brexit is bad for your health.”

Indy100 has approached the Vote Leave campaign for comment via the press email listed on its website, but given its Twitter account lies dormant and Companies House gives a dissolution date of June 2022, we’re not going to hold our breath.

God, we just love a lack of accountability!

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