UPDATE: Very helpful Twitter folk reckon tariffs may have been included in the gross contribution already as the ‘traditional own resource’ portion… except the figures online seem to think that only came to £2.6bn/yr. The mystery continues…
UPDATE2: Statistica reckon the UK raised about £3bn from import duties. Quite the difference to the £9bn HMRC told me. Did HMRC make a mistake?
UPDATE3: This report from the Treasury (opens as PDF) reckons income from customs duties etc is included in the contributions, but only totalled £2.3bn. So where has the £9bn figure HMRC told me come from? I am getting more and more convinced that they made a mistake.
How much money does the UK pay the EU? That’s the question that raged throughout the referendum campaign, and continues to now.
I have evidence from HMRC that it might be £7.2 billion per year more than you thought.
As far as I have seen, nobody in the Leave or Remain campaigns have mentioned this huge additional lump of money we send to the EU. Indeed even fullfact.org don’t mention it when working out how much the UK pays to the EU. I have no idea why this isn’t being mentioned, and if there is a reason why it should not be included in the figures I am happy to listen – but so far I can see no reason to leave it out. The only thing I can think of is that it’s already included in the figures, but if it is the figures don’t add up.
(There is of course the other possibility that the person at HMRC made a mistake…)
Our membership of the EU means that we are behind the common external tariff. This means that we apply the same tariffs on imports as the rest of the EU do. This is pretty common knowledge.
What is not common knowledge is what happens to the revenue gained from those tariffs. I e-mailed HMRC to ask. Here was their response (I have redacted the name and e-mail addresses, so I don’t end up getting someone in trouble):
It turns out that HM Treasury only keeps 20% of the revenue these import tariffs raise, with 80% going to the EU. If we were an independent country with the same tariffs, we’d be keeping 100%.
As the e-mails from HMRC show, duties in 2015-16 was £9 billion. 80% of that – so £7.2 billion – went to the EU.
So what does this mean for our overall contribution?
- The UK paid £13.1 billion to the EU budget, after the rebate had been applied
- Spending by the EU in the UK was £4.5 billion
- Therefore the net contribution was £8.6 billion
We now know that, if it’s not already included in the figures, the net contribution must actually be £8.6 billion + £7.2 billion = £15.8 billion
Do you remember the pedantry from Remain campaigners about the red bus? They said that because the rebate is applied up front rather than being sent away and refunded, we technically don’t send £350 million a week to the EU. Well, if this isn’t already included in the figures then they were right. We don’t send £350 million a week.
We sent £385 million a week.
That’s after the rebate has been deducted. That would literally mean we sent the EU more than the Vote Leave bus claimed.
I understand why the Remain campaign would avoid mentioning this (in what I would call a lie by omission), but why on Earth weren’t the Leave campaign yelling from the rooftops about it?
Is there a reason it shouldn’t be included in the figures? Is it already included in the original amounts? I can’t find it mentioned anywhere. Share this article far and wide and let’s get to the bottom of it, because on the evidence so far it looks like we’ve been being lied to about one of the most important aspects of the referendum campaign.