Wales politics

Europe referendum: Brexit 'means more money for services'

Dr Liam Fox
Image caption Dr Liam Fox: 'There is no such thing as EU money - it's already yours'

Millions more pounds could be spent on public services in Wales if the UK left the European Union, campaigners have claimed.

The official campaign against EU membership - Vote Leave - launched its Welsh campaign for the 23 June referendum in Cardiff on Saturday.

Ex-defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said leaving could save the UK £350m a week.

Wales Stronger In Europe, the official pro-EU Remain campaign, said Dr Fox's claims were "a flight from reality".

"Leaving the EU and taking back control of our own affairs would be a huge boost to public services in Wales, with more money available for hospitals, schools, and local services," said the former Conservative UK cabinet minister.

"Proponents of 'Project Fear' claim that Wales will be worse off financially if we leave the EU, but there is no such thing as EU money - it's already yours.

"Instead of handing over £350m a week to Brussels we should be spending that money on local priorities like the Welsh NHS, which has faced a billion pounds of cuts by the Welsh Labour Government since 2011.

"That's why we must seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take back control of our own destiny, and put decision-making back in to local hands."

Reality Check: Would Brexit mean extra £350m a week saved?

We've said it before and we'll say it again - the UK does not send £350m a week to Brussels - the rebate is deducted before the money is sent, which takes the contribution down to £276m a week.

That figure includes £88m a week spent in the UK on things like regional aid and support for farmers. The UK government could decide after a Brexit that it should take that money away from farmers and give it instead to the NHS, but it might be an unpopular decision in rural areas.

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EU referendum: In depth

Image copyright Reuters

The UK's EU vote: All you need to know

EU for beginners: A guide

UK and the EU: Better off out or in?

A-Z guide to EU-speak

Who's who: The Vote Leave team

Who's who: The Remain campaign

'Campaign of deception'

Geraint Talfan Davies, chairman of Wales Stronger In Europe's advisory board, said Dr Fox had argued against increasing health spending when he was Secretary of State for Health in England.

He added: "Wales Stronger In Europe has been very clear that we believe continued access to the single market, support for apprenticeships and the ability to use measures like the European Arrest Warrant make us stronger, safer and better off.

"We have seen none of this clarity from Vote Leave - it is time they ended their campaign of deception and admitted the hidden cost of Brexit.

"The simple truth is that whether on the economy, the health service, tourism or steel, Vote Leave offers us a flight from reality.

"This is not a prospectus that Welsh people are going to buy. Our businesses, working people, our farmers, our students and apprentices, all know that Wales benefits hugely from European investment. They are not going to give this up for a set of dodgy promises."

Wales Stronger In Europe launched its campaign in March.

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