Canterbury Tories have been forced into a humiliating climbdown after sensationally claiming on Tuesday that the Kent & Canterbury was to receive government funding for a new hospital.
On Tuesday morning, Tory activist Greig Baker, who recently stepped down as the local party chairman, posted on the Canterbury Residents Facebook Group that Conservative parliamentary hopeful Anna Firth had persuaded Prime Minister Johnson to build a new hospital in Canterbury.
A video seemingly showing Boris Johnson announcing the funding accompanied the claim.
However, the apparent announcement was met with scepticism from all sides. MP Rosie Duffield, the East Kent Hospitals Trust, and the campaign group CHEK all asked for urgent clarification from the Department of Health.
Crucially, the Conservative’s announcement appeared to bypass the legal process of consultation that must be carried out prior to reorganisation of health services.
As the day wore on, Tories began to distance themselves from the claim. Anna Firth told the Journal that she was unaware of Mr Baker’s Facebook and that the PM’s announcement was “unexpected”.
On Tuesday evening, the Department of Health issued a statement stating that no funding had been allocated to Canterbury, although the Trust was welcome to join Trusts from elsewhere in the country in bidding for future funding.
Speaking with the Journal today (Wednesday) Rosie Duffield said: “This episode seems to be yet another example of our unelected Prime Minister uttering words without thinking or considering the consequences.
“It is very clear that he had no real knowledge or understanding of the specific health care problems we face here in East Kent and it was irresponsible of him to interfere in a process he has not been involved in. It gave false hope to many in Canterbury and the surrounding area which was entirely misleading.”
Canterbury Tories will now face an uphill struggle to convince voters they can be trusted on local healthcare. A general election is expected later this year or early in 2020.