A SENIOR Labour figure has tonight warned that leaving the EU is the only way to save the NHS for future generations. Former foreign secretary Lord Owen said the “dysfunctional European Union” is killing our health service with excessive regulation and constant meddling. He warned that Brussels has now become “entrenched” within the NHS, adding that the upcoming referendum on June 23 is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to break free. The scathing broadside will put pressure on formerly Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn, who is currently campaigning in favour of Brussels. It also directly defies the narrative of David Cameron’s Project Fear, which is increasingly using the NHS as a weapon with which to scare voters. Discredited Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose tenure has sparked Junior Doctors strikes and been one of the most disastrous in the role, has warned the health service would be put under threat by Brexit. But Lord Owen blasted his claims out of the water tonight, insisting the only way to save the NHS is to leave the EU. He said: “The EU/Eurozone from 1992, in marked contrast to the old European Community of 1975, creeps into every nook and cranny of our life. “It is now becoming entrenched in the NHS and this June we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it out.” He added: “Now is the time to take back control from the EU and protect our NHS for future generations. “We are agreed in Vote Leave, that whatever our political views on the present marketisation of the NHS, decisions on the NHS should for the future be for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations to take. “It should not be for the European Commission nor the European Parliament.” The intervention is all the more astonishing because Lord Owen is a former Europhile who who campaigned as health minister to remain in the European Economic Community in the 1975 referendum. But tomorrow he will launch Vote Leave’s ‘Save our NHS’ campaign in London on Wednesday after seeing the light about the insidious nature of the Brussels project. He is expected to say that a vote to leave the EU would allow the UK to take back control of the NHS and protect it from outside competition. He will argue that the NHS would be freed from any competition-and-market-led involvement from the European Commission, including a proposed transatlantic free trade deal between the EU and the US. Critics fear the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US would lead to American health providers targeting the NHS. Lord Owen will say: “If people Vote to Leave on 23 June – as I hope they will – it will automatically follow that no British government can ratify the present TTIP. “Thereafter, UK legislation will govern the NHS in future and as a consequence we can take back control and protect the NHS from the EU.” The Government has insisted the TTIP does not threaten the UK’s health service, but offers trade openings for British business.