Seemingly good news this week – as Theresa May pledged an additional £25 billion of funding for the NHS. Just one tiny snag.
According to The Times, “The government has yet to confirm a plan for finding up to £11 billion of the money promised”.
Have you looked under the fridge? No – not that fridge. The one in Panama. You know the one.
The deal was brokered late on Friday afternoon – although when asked how it would be funded, sources said “some sources of funding had been more heavily pencilled in than others.”
This reminds me of the end of literally every night out. It’s almost time to call it, you agree you’ll have one more round – and you’re all convinced it’s someone else’s turn to pick up the tab.
Next thing you know, you’re being dragged out of the bar by a burly bouncer, who throws you to the curb so hard you crack your shoulder and end up in A&E.
Except there isn’t really an A&E any more – because everyone got drunk and forgot to work out who was going to pay for it. In the end it was bought by Coca Cola – who’ve gone back to the dark ages, and are prescribing tonic no matter what’s wrong with you. Still – at least sales of Schweppes are through the roof.
Jeremy Hunt’s take was that there were “huge, very difficult” discussions with the Treasury [that] “went to the wire”.
If only they had gone to The Wire. I imagine if Stringer Bell and Omar were in the room with guns pointed at the negotiating table, Theresa and co might have remembered how important it is to decide who’s paying and how before making a £25bn announcement.
The settlement gives those Vote Leave campaigners scarred by their now disproven claims about clawing back £350m a week for the NHS a chance to pretend they were right all along.
Theresa May has claimed that a significant proportion of the funding will be covered by the “Brexit dividend” – the money we will no longer be paying into the EU.
Boris Johnson was quick to jump in the bandwagon, tweeting: “Fantastic news on NHS funding — a down payment on the cash we will soon get back from our EU payments.”
Whether you believe in this new magical money tree or not, even with increased borrowing factored in, the plans are still underfunded by £11b. That’s one hell of a black hole.
When pressed on what’s really going to plug this black hole, government officials told The Times: “We’re going to have to have a conversation about tax.”
We’re going to have to have a conversation. That’s what your mum says when she’s planning on tearing you a new one, but she doesn’t want to Great Aunt Germany to know just how terrible a parent she is – so she gives you the warning, and then waits until you get home to let loose.
Initial reports were that Jeremy Hunt had threatened to resign unless he get his own way.
I really want to paint Jeremy Hunt as the villain here. It’s hard to, when he’s used his leverage over Theresa May (who would surely have edged ever closer to losing power had he resigned) in order to secure funding the NHS desperately needs.
But I’m going to anyway.
For once, Dr Evil, we’re glad you did what you did.
Why has May done this?
Here’s my thought. While she’s struggling to keep the country, or even her own party, on side – the MayBot has seized upon one of Labour’s key campaigning issues. Your average Labour supporter doesn’t mind the idea of paying a little extra tax if it means we can fund the NHS. But now May’s gone and done it, what’s left for Corbyn to offer up? Sneaky.
According to Jeremy Hunt. it’ll be a while before we know for sure how these tax rises are going to play out – with the details being held back into Phillip Hammond’s Budget in November.
5 Months?! If only Wetherspoons had given us 5 months to work out how we were going to pay off that bar bill. We’d be living the dream. But no – we’ve been banned now. I’m going top have to spend Friday night in the local All Bar One…