The Institute for Fiscal Studies has condemned justice secretary Michael Gove's claims that a Brexit vote would free up billions to be spent on the NHS.
Speaking on Sky News on Friday, Gove said: “There are billions of pounds that we send to the European Union every year and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has pointed out that if we took that money back we could spend it on our NHS.”
However, the IFS has argued that Gove misrepresented its analysis.
“We conclude that the net UK contribution to the EU over the next few years is indeed likely to be about £8bn a year, £8bn 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 £8bn. There is virtual unanimity among economic forecasters that the negative economic effect of leaving the EU would be greater than that,” the IFS said.
Former chancellor Alistair Darling said: “The IFS are clear – leaving the EU’s Single Market would leave us spending less on public services such as the NHS, or taxing more, or borrowing more.
“The NHS, and everyone who relies upon it and works in it, is stronger thanks to our membership of the EU. Leaving would be a leap in the dark”.
Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott responded: "If we Vote Leave we will be able to stop sending £350 million a week to the EU. We only ever get half of that back which means we will have over £8 billion to spend on our priorities like the NHS when we leave.
“We reject the predictions of doom by the EU-funded IFS. They rely on the dodgy assumptions of establishment economists and the Treasury- it is the same people who predicted the world would end if we did not join the Euro. The remain campaign don’t want to take money away from Brussels to spend it on the NHS, but on 23 June that’s exactly what a leave vote will enable us to do."