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Brexit would not make £8bn available for the NHS

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Michael Gove claimed on Friday that the IFS had said that leaving the EU would free up £8 billion to spend on the NHS. We have not said that. We have looked carefully at the likely public finance implications. We conclude that the net UK contribution to the EU over the next few years is indeed likely to be about £8 billion a year, £8 billion which would become available for other things were we to leave. However we also point out that even a small negative effect of just 0.6% on national income from leaving the EU would damage the public finances by more than that £8 billion. There is virtual unanimity among economic forecasters that the negative economic effect of leaving the EU would be greater than that. That is why we conclude that leaving the EU would not, as Michael Gove claims we said, leave more money to spend on the NHS. Rather it would leave us spending less on public services, or taxing more, or borrowing more.