12/02/2016 15:07 GMT | Updated 11/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Lib Dem Leader Using "Project Fear" to Scare Ex-Pat OAPs

The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has been exposed this week doing the very thing he accuses of his political rivals - using fear to back up a false argument.

In a speech in London on Tuesday, he claimed that the National Health Service would come under increasing pressure if the United Kingdom broke free from the European Union.

His exact words were these: "I have to ask the question, given the hundreds of thousands of retired British people living in Europe, how our NHS would cope when they have to return?"

To an ex-pat living in an EU member state, those words could cause some alarm.

In the same speech, Tim also said: "The leave campaign will play nasty."

Let's take those two points to task.

First, Tim, whoever said that ex-pats would have to return home to Britain should the UK quit the EU?

That'll be absolutely no one. Not a single ex-pat, elderly or otherwise, would "have" to return home after Brexit.

That is because upon leaving the EU - and Tim Farron should know this perfectly well - the UK and the EU would still be bound by the 1969 Vienna Convention honouring the existing free movement agreements.

Which means anyone who has already moved either in or out of the UK under existing EU agreements can remain exactly where they are.

Secondly, who's really playing nasty here, Tim?

Who is it exactly that is putting the thought into elderly people's minds that they might be forced to uproot and return to Britain after Brexit?

That will be one Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader. But he's not alone.

Dominic Grieve, the Government's former Attorney General, has claimed: "EU exit would make 2m Britons abroad illegal immigrants overnight."

Yet Mr Grieve, a trained lawyer no less, should also know about the provisions within the Vienna Convention. And if he doesn't, then it's about time he crammed in some law revision.

Even a House of Commons Library note has clarified: "Generally speaking, withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal."

So there is no threat whatsoever from British citizens returning home to put strain on the NHS.

Where there is strain, of course, is from the number of people coming here and treating our national health service as an international health service.

Unbridled immigration inevitably puts pressure on public services like the NHS, housing and the transport network because it means those services are having to cope with more people but with the same budgets.

People realise this when they're waiting for hours to see a GO or a doctor in A&E. They know it when they're stuck on waiting lists for housing. And we all know how crowded our roads and railways are.

I find it pretty appalling that Tim Farron would seek to invent a non-existent threat against elderly Britons living abroad.

That, Tim, really is the stuff of the "Project Fear" of which you accuse your political foes - and a demonstration from the Liberal Democrat leader in the art of utter hypocrisy.

Louise Bours is MEP for the North West, Ukip health spokesman and a member of the Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament.