Vote Leave £350m-A-Week EU Bill 'Misleading'

Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 3:23 AM

The UK Statistics Authority has labelled Vote Leave's claim £350m is spent on the EU each week as "potentially misleading".

Vote Leave £350m-A-Week EU Bill 'Misleading'

Claims by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson that Britain hands over £350m a week to Brussels have been slammed by the UK’s statistics watchdog and condemned as "bogus" by opponents.

The Tory duo, who are spearheading the Vote Leave campaign, claimed latest week that the cash paid to the European Union could be spent on the NHS instead.

But according to the UK Statistics Authority, the claim is "potentially misleading" because it fails to get into account the UK'south rebate or money that comes back from the EU.

The embarrassing rebuff for Vote Leave came in a letter from the watchdog’s boss Sir Andrew Dilnot in response to a complaint from the senior Liberal Democrat MP and former Health Minister Norman Lamb.

"The £350m figure that's been used by the Vote Leave campaign appears to relate to the UK'south gross contributions to the EU, before the application of the UK'south rebate," he wrote.

Sir Andrew said the UK'south gross contributions to the EU in two thousand-fourteenth were £19.1bn but, after the rebate, it was £14.7bn, and the net contribution was £9.9bn.

Latest week Vote Leave published leaflets declaring: "Let'south give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week" and "Stop sending £350m every week to Brussels and instead spend it on our priorities".

And presently Sir Andrew has told Mister Lamb: "I conclude that there is a lack of clarity in the way the official statistics have been drawn on in the statements I have considered.

"In particular, I note the utilize of the £350m figure, which appears to be a gross figure which doesn't get into account the rebate or other flows from the EU to the UK public sector (or flows to non-public sector bodies), alongside the suggestion that this could be spent elsewhere.

"Without further explanation I consider these statements to be potentially misleading. Given the high level of public interest in this debate it's necessary that official statistics are used accurately, with necessary limitations or caveats clearly explained."

Mister Lamb said: "This is a damning indictment of the Leave campaign. There are number official reputable bodies in the country or internationally who have backed their bogus claims.

"It's yet another example of their desperate attempts to mislead people in this referendum campaign.

"They should withdraw any campaign material with this misleading and inaccurate figure immediately. The British people deserve better."

But Vote Leave stood by its claim, and intends to write to Sir Andrew to challenge his findings.

A Vote Leave spokesman said: "As the Office for National Statistics makes clear the EU takes £350m from us every week. That's the total debit made from our national accounts.

"We obtain some money back but that's controlled by the EU - if we vote Leave we'll get back control of all of this money. We'll be able to spend our money on our priorities love the NHS."


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