The weekly cost of Britain’s EU membership has become one of the most controversial issues surrounding the Brexit debate. It was not that long ago that Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson was sued by businessman Marcus Ball for the ‘misleading’ claim that the UK’s weekly membership fees cost £350 million a week, a statement which was plastered all over Vote Leave’s buses during the 2016 EU Referendum. The High Court refused to prosecute the former Foreign Secretary for that argument.
But the cost of EU membership continues to haunt the 2016 referendum’s aftermath, and has left many voters on both sides of the argument disappointed in the way both the Leave and Remain campaigns were conducted. Stronger In Europe’s claim that voting to leave would have an immediate economic impact has been proven false. Sky News recently reported that the UK economy grew by 0.3 per cent in May, which meant that the annual growth rate remained at 1.5 per cent, as economists anticipated. Yet no one is establishing the truth behind the statement that lingers beyond the referendum – how much does it cost for the UK to remain in the EU?
The Spectator’s Steerpike produced an article in 2017 claiming that Vote Leave’s claims were false – Britain actually pays £365 million a week into Brussels’ coffers. He argues the £350 million sum is only true if it was spoken of as a net figure. The Office of National Statistics’ figures at the time revealed the gross payment to the EU was £18.9 billion a year, which works out at the total The Spectator calculated. Yet since they published this article, EU membership fees have been disproved, again. Yet nobody has reported on it yet.
City financial expert Bob Lyddon published a paper for Global Britain in 2017 that puts the weekly figure at £980 million a week. Furthermore, there is a one trillion exposure to other EU liabilities the UK has to escape from post-Brexit. This brings the annual figure up to £9 billion being paid until 2020 potentially, but no drastic reduction before or after that in two significant areas of cash costs: £12 billion p.a. from tax manipulations by multinational companies and £30 billion p.a. from EU economic migration. The latter figure is the shortfall between the tax and National Insurance the 3.6 million migrants and their jobs deliver, and the £10,500 p.a. average cost of public services.
Britain remains trapped in the EU Budget and EU institutions expose this country up to further liabilities of approximately £1 trillion. Legally the UK is vulnerable to paying the entire cash portion of the EU Budget of about 650 billion euros, since the cost is a joint-and-several one.
There is the Commitments Appropriation portion of the EU Budget, where Britain is at risk of repaying numerous debts incurred by Brussels in bailing out Portugal and Ireland in 2010, and in providing loans to dozens of projects inside and outside the EU, with an amount at risk that can escalate to 444 billion euros by the end of 2020.
Also, the UK could have to pay out an extra 35.7 billion euros to the European Investment Bank and 1.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank on top of the capital Brits have already paid in of 3.6 billion euros, meaning 40.7 billion euros at risk in all. With the Italian economy at risk of collapsing any time soon, there is also a chance Britain may have to contribute to a bailout fund for them.
With the mainstream media and politicians failing to do their jobs in informing people how much the EU really costs, it is little wonder people have diminishing trust in both institutions. However, these figures explain why Brussels is trying to prevent the UK from leaving easily. In addition, they are demanding a divorce settlement as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. It is imperative Britain leaves the EU immediately and that no separation fee is paid. The British have paid enough into this institution and these sums show it is far more than Vote Leave ever claimed. If either Boris or Jeremy Hunt fail to do this on October 31st, trust in politicians will reach an all-time low.