David Cameron has “quietly” paid off the bill that Britain received from the European Union at the end of last year – an issue which caused a major shift in the polls before the British General Election, and which at the time, Cameron refused to pay.
The European Commission confirmed last week that Mr Cameron stumped up for the bill, despite having called it “appalling” last October, and promising UK tax payers that he would not pay the larger bill, which was based on Britain’s economy growing, and taking into account the “black economy” such as drugs and prostitution into Gross National Income growth figures.
But Cameron, as ever, has caved to the EU, and stumped up the cash in two payments. Presumably, this is what George Osborne meant when he said at the time, “I will make sure we get a better deal for Britain.”
The issue led to a four point poll bump for the UK Independence Party, who demanded that Britain refuse to pay the bill altogether,
Eventually, Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne briefed to the press that Britain would only pay half of the bill but the details revealed that they actually meant half in July, and half in September – a fact that the European Commission has now confirmed.
And the payment was actually for £2.87bn, not £1.7bn, as the British press all reported last year.
Britain will be owed a rebate from the EU following the payment, of £1.24bn, taking the overall bill down to £1.63bn paid (the £1.7bn as quoted in the press), but the Exchequer first has to cough up the larger amount, and then wait for the EU to transfer some back.
Britain quietly settled its latest altercation over the European Union budget by paying a 1.7 billion-pound ($2.6 billion) bill that Prime Minister David Cameron originally derided as “appalling.”
Britain transferred the money in two installments on July 1 and Sept. 1, the Brussels-based European Commission said in a statement on Thursday. The U.K. was among nine countries that were forced last October to pay more as a result of rising national wealth.
In the tradition of British criticism of European spending that dates back to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Cameron reacted last October to the increased bill by calling it — and the tight deadline for paying — “completely unacceptable.” Cameron eventually won European permission to delay the payment until after this May’s British election.
In euros at the time, the extra bill for the U.K. amounted to 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion).
The U.K. payments in July and September totaled 2.87 billion pounds — or 3.9 billion euros at the current exchange rate — and the country will receive back the difference with what it owed in separate transactions, the commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, said on Thursday.