August 9, 2017

Remainers never understood the £350 million

Remainers never understood the £350 million

The public were not lied to or hoaxed regarding the £350 million, says Isaac Ross.

So here we are again: squabbling about that £350 million we allegedly send weekly to Brussels with reports claiming we sent the EU a ‘mere’ £156 million per week last year, under half of Vote Leave’s infamous bus-side slogan. If we are indeed replaying the referendum campaign, can someone please get the political pantomime double act of Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof back out on the Thames to reenact that surreal afternoon.

This issue needs to finally be put to bed. It usually ranks quite prominently on Remainer’s list of Vote Leave ‘lies’ during the campaign and is used frequently to claim the public were duped thus rendering the result somewhat, if not entirely illegitimate.

This is simply wrong for the following reasons. Firstly, and most rudimentarily, this is the gross sum of our weekly contributions to Brussels which is a common model to state figures such as ones salary. The argument should really have ended here but the remain camp decided to confront the figure at every viable opportunity; a manoeuvre that served to their eventual detriment.

This was a colossal mistake on the part of the remain camp’s campaign strategy as by incessantly bringing up the £350 million number, they attracted attention to the concept behind the mathematics, something Vote Leave understood well.

It initiated a debate about Britains’s financial contributions to the EU, whether we were getting value for money from our outlay and if these funds could be better spent on national priorities.

Here, the remain camp made their second fatal error. They failed to comprehend the overall dynamics of euroscepticism and how it would react to this debate. For most, if not all sceptics, the exact figure was a logistical irrelevance. Any sum of money payed to Brussels was intolerable as these were funds transferred to a body that was hijacking national sovereignty rendering our courts unable to be the final arbiters of our destiny and had assured our borders would remain helplessly open to unrestrained immigration.

Who would disapprove of a weekly fee of £350 million to the EU yet would find £150 million reasonable? I’m yet to find anyone. If the referendum debate was about reclaiming national sovereignty and how mass immigration had altered the British cultural landscape and affected the economy, what intrusion on the scrupled case for leaving does the meticulous data make? The principle is unalterable by exact numerics.

To many, even a figure in the tens of millions would evoke the same gritted-teeth frustration with a transnational political project intent on destroying the nation state and domestic patriotism.

The public were not lied to or hoaxed regarding the £350 million. The nation voted to leave the EU intent on revitalising our judiciary and to leave a fundamentally anti-democratic federalist body over-zealous in its vision to expand and dominate.

4.00 avg. rating (81% score) - 5 votes
Isaac Ross
Isaac Ross is an aspiring political and social commentator. His primary interests include cultural matters, Brexit, party politics and foreign policy.
  • Lamia

    Trade deals will never happen…


    I do believe trade deals will happen.

    You’re just making this up as you go along, aren’t you?

    opening up to growing markets is a great thing. But making it harder to trade with the huge one on your doorstep – less so.

    Before we joined the EEC we had a very small deficit with member countries. Since joined that deficit has grown and we now have a huge deficit with the rest of the EU. And that is not even taking into consideration the opportunity cost created by other EU countries being able to take the vast majority of fish from our waters (and no, that is not even nearly balanced out by the amount we are allowed to fish from other EU states’ waters).

    It is just habit, not advantage, for us to be trading with this bloc under the current system.

  • Tocto

    So I think your conclusion reveals the answer to my question: it’s not about money (or the money arguments in favour of Brexit are pitiful)
    – Sterling has fallen from >1.40 to <1.10, with consensus forecasts heading for euro parity (and shorting GBP being one of the most crowded trades in the city). Is that not a collapse?
    – I do understand the status of services in the single market. However in many versions of Brexit, London's financial services market will suffer substantially. I do not see what other services will take up the slack
    – opening up to growing markets is a great thing. But making it harder to trade with the huge one on your doorstep – less so.
    – I do believe trade deals will happen. I am less than certain of their value. Tariffs on trade with EU (if they come in) will do more damage than new trade deals can compensate for
    On democratic deficit: agreed.

  • Bogbrush

    What did you miss?

    – that opening up growing markets is smarter than hanging into a declining one. Think forward.
    – that sterling desperately needed to drop in value, and is in no sort of collapse
    – that all establishment forecasts were proven 180 degrees wrong after the vote so further proclamations of doom from similar quarters are devalued.
    – that you clearly don’t understand the status of services in the Single Market.
    – that trade deals will happen. And quickly. People want easier access to this market.

    And that money isn’t everything; that democracy matters. Funny how so-called liberals seem to think money is all that matters. Isn’t that supposed to be the awful Toriee?

  • Tocto

    Being petty: ‘left … focused on revitalising our judiciary’. Until the judiciary imposed more democracy, and the daily mail went nuts

    Being big picture: who cares about the £350m, I have yet to hear a single convincing argument for brexit, aside from the (real) one in favour of working classes who have lost jobs to immigrants. That’s a real argument.
    However, sterling is midway through a collapse. Consumer confidence is shot. Trade deals will never happen and if they do will be with countries so far away that the tariff benefit will be outweighed by the shipping. Services… well, not looking so good. What have i missed? Seriously i would love a brexiter to make a convincing economic argument

  • TimonSays

    Nobody was ‘fooled’ by the £350m figure. The media made it clear (almost on a daily basis!) that this was the gross – not the net – amount.

    And as the author here points out, it is the standard practice to quote the gross figure, whether on salaries or prices.

  • Ben

    Well done! Great article. I agree with many of your points.

    Brexit first sparked my interest in politics 5 years ago and I have been a Eurosceptic ever since then. However, I personally did not support the particular way in which the official “Vote Leave” campaign used the £350 million figure during the referendum campaign. However, it is worth bearing the following in mind:
    1) It was not a lie. The “Vote Leave” campaign never claimed it was a net figure and, since the referendum, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in London has stated that our gross annual EU membership fee was actually £367 million per week. The strength of using the £350 million figure was that we have absolutely no control over how that £350 million should be spent and what it should be spent on. We pay the EU a gross ~£19.8 billion per year and we get ~£10bn back per year but we have no control over how this money is spent. Once we’ve left, this money can be deomcratically allocated and our elected Parliament shall decided how it is spent, not the EU.
    2) Once we have formally and officially left both the EU and its internal market, it will be possible for the UK Government to spend an extra £367 million on the NHS if it really wants to. I personally would not recommend such a course of action as it would deprive farming (and other areas previously subsidised by the EU) of some funds but it would be possible. It would be the Government’s decision. It is highly likely that at least some of that money will indeed be spent on the NHS.
    3) The figure was constantly doubted and questioned by the press and the media and so very few people truly believed it to be a net figure.
    4) This was not a General Election and so we were not electing the “Vote Leave” campaign. It was a single, binary decision – should we remain members of the EU or leave the EU? Therefore, the campaign group cannot be expected to deliver on this pledge and cannot be held accountable.
    5) The “Vote Leave” campaign never said “When we leave the EU, an extra £350 million per week will be spent on the NHS”. They never said “We pledge…” or “We promise…”. Some in the leave campaign wanted the money to fund a personal income tax cut instead and said so during the campaign. There were differing views.
    6) Many, many other groups such as “Grassroots Out”, “Leave.EU”, the “Bruges Group”, “Get Britain Out”, “Better Off Out”, “Lawyers for Britain”, “Economists for Britain”, “Veterans for Britain”, “Students for Britain”, etc… campaigned for a leave vote but did not use the £350 million figure.
    7) All campaigns and all parties make misleading claims in referendums and elections. The Remain campaign falsely claimed that there would be a recession in the immediate aftermath of a vote to leave and we are still waiting for it. They also claimed that every UK household would be £4,300 worse off each year due to a leave vote but they then, as even remain campaigners admit, never used the figure again after a few days as they knew hardly anyone believed it. New Labour took office on a pledge to end “boom and bust” but the 2008 financial crash ensued. It is sadly inevitable that all campaign groups and parties will make misleading claims. The important thing is that these claims should be doubted and questioned by the press and the media.

  • Bogbrush

    And more specifucally, the money was not promised to the NHS, it was promised that we could so allocate it if we wished.

    The whole point was we could choose. We can have free movement, if we want. We can match tariffs and obey all their rules, if we want. And we can give saved fees to the NHS, if we wish. All we have to do is vote for parties standing on that platform.

    Vote Leave was not a party with an election manifesto, it was an argument.

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