Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), the nation has been stung with a £700 million EU budget increase, a leaked Treasury briefing has revealed.
The surprise document was marked “sensitive” and intended only for Treasury ministers and officials, but was released in error on the department’s website and seen by The Times.
It simultaneously revealed the Treasury has given up on hitting its targets to reduce Britain’s deficit this year, as it faces paying the huge EU bill.
Brussels is attempting to impose the seemingly punitive 25 per cent increased in the UK’s monthly contribution just four months after the British people delivered the Brexit vote.
A Treasury spokesman told The Times: “We just don’t recognise claims this was a political bung.”
Controlling immigration and ending the authority of the European Court of Justice over UK law has been included in the UK’s list of “red lines” for up-and-coming negotiations, but continuing to fund some EU institutions has not been ruled out.
Officials from the unelected European Commission argued the larger-than-normal bill last month was to make up for an unusually small bill in March.
The Treasury commented: “The chancellor has been clear that while the deficit has been cut, it is still too high. The government is committed to balancing the books over a sensible period of time.”
A spokesman also argued that a fall in the pound made the UK’s contributions to the EU more costly as they need to be converted to euros before being paid to Brussels.
The pound has fallen by nearly a fifth against the dollar since the EU referendum at the end of June.
However, the weakness of sterling has given manufacturing exports a significant boost according to the latest report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The Industrial Trends Survey showed that export volumes grew at their fastest pace for two and a half years in the three months to October. Export orders are expected to rise further over the next three months, the BBC reports.
“Manufacturers are optimistic about export prospects and export orders are growing, following the fall in sterling,” said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist.