Boris Johnson sets out Brexit blueprint and revives £350m a week for NHS pledge

Updated: 

Boris Johnson has set out a detailed vision for Britain's exit from the European Union that revives the widely-criticised claim Brexit could boost NHS coffers by £350 million a week.

Just six days before Theresa May will set out her Brexit blueprint in a speech in Florence, the Foreign Secretary has penned a 4,000 word article laying out his own path for a "glorious" future outside the bloc.

Britain should not pay for access to European markets and must seize the opportunity to reform the tax system to encourage investment, he said.

(Mary Turner/PA)
(Mary Turner/PA)

Continued membership the single market and customs union would make a "complete mockery" of the referendum result, Mr Johnson suggests.

The Foreign Secretary's decision to publicise his own Brexit strategy is likely to fuel speculation his leadership ambitions remain undimmed.

In the article for the Daily Telegraph, he insists Brexit will allow the UK to "be the greatest country on earth" and "our destiny will be in our own hands".

"This country will succeed in our new national enterprise, and will succeed mightily," he wrote.

(Stefan Rousseau/PA)
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Leave campaign's most eye-catching pledge during the referendum campaign was a claim ending Britain's contributions to the EU would free up an extra £350 million a week that could be spent on the NHS.

But it was widely derided and in the weeks after the result, Mr Johnson and other campaigners, appeared to distance themselves from the promise.

In the article for the Telegraph, however, he said the UK would "roughly" be £350 million better off and it would be a "fine thing" if a lot of it went on the health service.

He wrote: "Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week. It would be a fine thing as many of us have pointed out if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make the most of new technology...

"One of the advantages of investing in the NHS - if we combine that investment with reform - is that we can turbo charge the role of our health service in driving bioscience."

(Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
(Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Critics warned there is "absolutely no chance" of the £350 million pledge being delivered and said Mr Johnson was untrustworthy.

Mr Johnson does not mention plans for a transition period after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019 and argues there is no need to pay for market access.

"We would not expect to pay for access to their markets any more than they would expect to pay for access to ours," he said.

The Government should "seize the opportunity" of Brexit to reform our tax system to boost investment.

(Tolga Akmen/PA)
(Tolga Akmen/PA)

"Outside the EU there are obvious opportunities - in agriculture, fisheries, in the setting of indirect taxation," he said.

"At the stroke of a pen, the Chancellor will be able to cut VAT on tampons; often demanded by Parliament but - absurdly - legally impossible to deliver."

The UK should not slam the door on immigration but businesses must do more to give British youngsters a good start in life.

"We will have an immigration (system) that suits the UK, not slamming the door - but welcoming the talent we need, from the EU and around the world," he said.