New film for NHS' 75th birthday takes direct aim at Brexit architects

Published on July 05, 2023

A new film, called ‘Brexit Dead Ringer’, released for the NHS' 75th birthday takes aim at leading politicians who lied about the health service to deliver Brexit in a film that is striking, bleak and utterly compelling.

The film, produced by Apostrophe Campaigns for the European Movement, shows a man calling the NHS to book an appointment in a split-screen sequence calling back to one of the most memorable and disingenuous Vote Leave ads from the EU referendum.

Vote Leave’s 2016 split-screen ad depicted overcrowded hospitals, with overworked staff drowning in paperwork alongside a parallel, imagined world where Brexit has magically turned the United Kingdom into a perfect utopia, thanks to an NHS with an extra £350m a week after leaving the EU. 

The European Movement’s advert, released exclusively to The Independent, takes a swipe at the original “disingenuous propaganda.” Their film reminds viewers of those lies, showing us the reality of empty building sites and unanswered phones in place of the promised new hospitals and properly compensated staff.

In the new rip-off split-screen, a man attempting to make a hospital appointment has his call quickly answered on one side of the screen, whilst on the other, nobody picks up. Instead, we hear the piercing, jarring and relentless ringing of a bright red phone.

It sharply divides the false promises made by the Brexit campaign from the reality of post-Brexit Britain.

The phone call made in the film goes through to ‘Extension 350’ (another dig at the £350m a week promise) before the camera pulls back to reveal that the phone is hanging on a paper-thin, fake wall, in an unused building site, with the promised funding nowhere to be seen.

An answering machine tells him, “You’ve reached one of the hospitals built with the £350m a week for the NHS when we took back control.”

The phone disconnects with, “Message box full, goodbye.”

The caller is left with no response and no way to get help, appearing unsure why the fantasy he was sold hasn't come to pass; a voice-over tells us, "They want you to forget their Brexit lies. Don’t.”

We are then delivered an urgent call to action: “Join the Battle for the Soul of our Country".

Emma Knaggs, Interim CEO of the European Movement, said:

“In 2016, the Leave campaign released a series of deliberately misleading adverts, spinning a fantasy of a well-staffed, well-funded NHS with near-empty emergency rooms populated exclusively by smiling, uninjured patients. They claimed Brexit would inject £350 million a week to spend on the NHS, building a new hospital every single week. It was a lie then, and it’s a lie now.

“As we celebrate 75 years of our beloved NHS, the European Movement is the only organisation with the courage to call out the deliberate deception and propaganda of the Brexit campaign that has pushed hardworking staff and our invaluable service to the edge.

“They want you to forget their Brexit lies. Don’t. Don’t let them get away with it. We can't allow politicians complicit in these gross fabrications to sweep it all under the carpet and ignore their culpability — Brexit has been a disaster, especially for healthcare, and everyone knows it.

Decades of Brexit lies, cover-ups and scandal are finally catching up. Britain cannot thrive whilst crippled by Brexit. The European Movement is the only organisation with the courage, confidence and commitment to reverse the calamity of Brexit and win the Battle for the Soul of our Country.”

Mike Galsworthy, Chair of the European Movement, added:

The truth has always been that Brexit was a bonfire of public money and that, in fact, EU citizens were adding more to the supply side of the NHS than the demand side.

“Without EU doctors and nurses feeling welcome here and with huge sums of money consumed by Brexit, our NHS is under huge strain.

“The European Movement is the only organisation with the courage, confidence and commitment to call this out, reverse the calamity of Brexit and lead the country back to a place where fellow European nurses, doctors and carers feel fully welcome in our NHS and this country again.”

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