An appeal to ignorance

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The Electoral Commission leaflet that dropped through my letter box gives information both for and against membership of the EU.

However, it would be good to read some truthful information particularly about the contribution that the UK makes to the European Union.

The Brexit Campaign claims the EU costs £350m a week. This is wrong. Cost is what is actually paid, not the nominal contribution. The facts are as follows. The net out-turn contribution the UK made in 2013 to the EU was £10.465bn [source UK Treasury]. On a weekly basis, this works out as £200m per week, not £350m per week as claimed by the Brexit Campaign.

Actually the Treasury figure does not include £1.8bn that comes back to the UK through the EU research budget, so the real net UK contribution is £8bn, which works out as £154m per week.

The net benefit of EU membership to the UK is in the region of £70bn a year [source CBI]. I prefer to view these figures in terms of my annual household tax budget as being one of the 26.7 million UK households.

The tax cost of membership of the EU per UK household is £300 per year and for this the UK benefits by an equivalent income of £2,600 per year.

What the Brexit Campaign fail to point out is the impact of an exit on the annual interest costs of servicing the UK national debt. The interest we pay internationally on the UK national debt of £1,600bn is £43bn and is equivalent to a tax contribution of £1,600 per annum per household.

The interest rate is linked to the confidence the international financial organisations have in the strength of the UK economy and hence the pound. If the value of the pound drops further in the event of an exit, the cost of servicing this debt will rise and although we might save the EU tax contribution of £300 per annum per household, increased debt service charges could easily wipe out any gains. In summary the Brexit ‘facts’ in the leaflet are untrue and a gross exaggeration of the actual costs of membership of the EU. For a point of view to have real credibility, it should fairly and accurately examine the evidence, otherwise it is simply an appeal to ignorance and prejudice achieved by cherry picking headline figures.

David Daniels CBE

Beech House Lane

Robertsbridge

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