Chuka Umunna launches watchdog to ensure Brexit sticks to these key promises


Chuka Umunna has launched a new watchdog aimed at ensuring Leave campaigners stick to the promises they made during the Brexit campaign.

The prominent Remain campaigner and Labour MP has joined forces with a cross-party group of like-minded MPs and others to try to put pressure on the withdrawal side to come good on their referendum pledges.

"Now that we have voted to leave the European Union, they think you are going to forget those promises and those pledges that were made. We are determined to ensure their promises are scrutinised and they are held to account for all the pledges that were made," Umunna said.

He said Vote Leave Watch would be of equal value "whether you are the 48%, bitterly disappointed at the result, which, of course, we have to accept, or you're the 52% who voted for us to leave, who want to know that the promises made to you are delivered on. For example the promise that there would be £350 million extra every week going to our NHS."

But what exactly are the pledges that are under threat?

1. Promising £350 million a week to the NHS.

A campaign poster for Vote Leave.
(Vote Leave)

The Vote Leave campaign said they would send the £350 million they claimed was given to the EU each week to the NHS. They had a campaign bus with the slogan "We send the NHS £350 million a week, let's fund our NHS instead".

But just days after the vote, official members of the Vote Leave campaign revealed this would not be the case.

Iain Duncan Smith told Andrew Marr only a "significant amount of it would go to the NHS" and "there are other bits and pieces like agriculture". Chris Grayling told Good Morning Britain Vote Leave had only proposed spending £100 million extra a week on the NHS.

Moreover, months before the referendum, BBC reality check showed that we don't even send £350 million a week to Brussels - if we take out the rebate which doesn't even get sent, and the money spent on British industries like farming and education, we actually only send £161 million a week.

2. Promising immigration control AND access to the single market.

File photo dated 16/06/16 of Ukip leader Nigel Farage launching a new Ukip EU referendum poster campaign featuring migrants queuing to get into the EU under the slogan Breaking Point, one of the most significant events in the EU referendum campaign.
(Philip Toscano/PA)

The EU's single market, where EU countries can trade freely, is predicated on the principle of free movement of labour and people. In other words, we can't have both access to the single market and immigration controls - they're the rules.

However, in his highly-anticipated post-Brexit column, Boris Johnson continued to claim we can have both.

"British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI - the BDI - has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market," he wrote.

However, he added: "The Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system."

Those who did understand that you can't have both backtracked on Vote Leave promises to cut immigration.

After the vote MEP Daniel Hannan of Vote Leave said Britain should be part of the single market and keep free movement of labour.

3. Saying the economy would be stable.

Vote Leave repeatedly reassured voters that leaving the EU would strengthen the economy.

Michael Gove said: "With growth rates so low in Europe, with so many unemployed and with the nature of the single currency so damaging, freeing ourselves from that project can only strengthen our economy."

When economic experts pointed out that the evidence showed Brexit would lead to economic harm and instability, Gove said "100 German scientists in the pay of the government" said Einstein was wrong, effectively comparing the British government to the Nazis.

However, when the results were announced the pound hit a 31-year low against the US dollar, £124 billion was almost immediately wiped off the stock market, there were reports of banks moving staff out of London, companies reported cancelling contracts, the UK's credit rating was downgraded from its triple A status and the share prices of banks and companies like RBS, Virgin and Barclays dropped by around 30%.

However, Boris Johnson confusingly said the economy was fine.

We think that's quite a lot for Vote Leave Watch to be getting on with for now.

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