ONS To Knock Vote Leave’s £350m Fiction

The Vote Leave battle takes each chance to affirm that Britain pays £350 million every week to the European Commission. In a late video playing on voters’ worry about the NHS, for instance, Vote Leave says that the wellbeing administration would be fit as a fiddle if the UK was not sending £350 million every week to Brussels. The Vote Leave site whines that the £350 million is “about a large portion of the English schools spending plan.” Brazenly, Vote Leave frequently marks its cases with “Certainty” in red. Truth: “The EU now costs the UK over £350 million every week.” FACT: “Our EU commitments are sufficient to construct another, completely staffed NHS healing facility consistently.” And so on.

Vote Leave’s “Truth” has as of now been redressed by numerous spectators. InFacts has done as such more than once, for instance here. The Financial Times has called Vote Leave’s case “a long way from exact.” BBC Reality Check has said something. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has remarked that “disregarding the discount along these lines does not appear to be sensible”.

Presently, in a letter to InFacts on May 6, Jonathan Athow, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) executive general for monetary measurements, has swore to clear up the matter in discharges got ready for May 25 and May 26. Given that he conveys on this promise, Vote Leave ought to be left with no place to cover up. The Brexit camp will need to drop its £350 million a week statement or adequately announce a goal to construct its battle in light of a lie.

The £350 million a week claim originates from Table 9.9 in the “Pink Book” delivered by the ONS. Both Vote Leave and its supporters have indicated this table (see here and here). Table 9.9 reports “Aggregate charges” to the EU at £19.1 billion for 2014, which works out at £367 million every week. Be that as it may, this number is not the sum that the UK really sends to the EU, let alone to the net expense of EU enrollment.

The most concerning issue with the “Aggregate charges” number is that it doesn’t tally the discount arranged by Margaret Thatcher. This refund shows up somewhere else in Table 9.9: a thing called the “Fontainebleau Abatement” reports that the UK got £4.4 billion from the EU in 2014. Subtracting that from the “Aggregate charges” of £19.1 billion leaves a charge of £14.7 billion, or £283 million every week. At the end of the day, the “Aggregate charges” number blows up the truth by around a quarter.