EU Extracts Billions More from UK with ‘Eye-popping’ 20 Per Cent Increase to Budget Contribution

A statue holding the symbol of the Euro, the European common currency, stands in front of the European Parliament building on August 16 and 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.
Mark Renders/Getty

Britain’s payments to the European Union budget swelled by an “eye-popping” 20 per cent in the year to March 31st, despite the country having voted to leave the EU all the way back in 2016.

The sums British taxpayers sent to Brussels to feed EU spending rose by £2.6 billion to £15.5 billion, according to Treasury figures reported by the Telegraph.

This is a punishment of sorts for Britain’s relative economic success — which comes despite inaccurate pre-referendum claims that a Leave vote would tank the economy, and contemporary claims that the threat of No Deal Brexit is grinding the economy to a halt — as the EU extracts more money from member-states the more strongly they are performing, according to a fairly opaque formula based on gross national income.

This formula has been altered to slap bigger bills on Britain in the past, with the EU increasing Britain’s obligations by almost £2 billion in 2014 after deciding its estimates of the size of Britain’s so-called black economy should be taken into account, for example.

“These figures are eye-popping,” commented Iain Duncan Smith, the Brexit-supporting former Tory leader and Work and Pensions secretary who now chairs Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, and is expected to make a dramatic return to frontline politics if Johnson succeeds Theresa May as Prime Minister.

“It’s ironic that as [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Philip Hammond launches his final [Project Fear] tirade whilst voting against his Government — without having the decency or principle to resign — the Treasury shows that an increasing amount of British taxpayers’ money continues to pour into bottomless EU coffers.”

The Telegraph estimates that if this money remained at home it could have paid for “50,000 more police officers on the streets or fund[ed] 81,000 social care beds.”

‘Remainer Phil’ — who has pledged to hand his resignation to Theresa May before she offers her own resignation to the Queen if Johnson is elevated to the Tory leadership as expected — appears to be comparatively blasé about the massive increase in Britain’s payments, with a Treasury spokesman brushing it off with a statement that the sum “fluctuates between years depending on factors like economic performance and profile of EU spending… This figure is still within the forecasted EU budget.”

Many Remainers like to point to the fact that some of the money Britain sends to the EU returns in the form of so-called “EU funding” — often with significant strings attached — but as the country still comes out with losses measured in the billions every year, the description of such payments as “EU funding” in meaningful sense appears dubious.

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