‘Speed up Brexit’ EU costs Britain £267million A WEEK

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UK EU spendingGETTY

The mammoth spending is the equivalent of £267 million per week

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the eye-watering sum, equivalent to £267 million a week, was paid to Brussels by UK taxpayers to cover the country’s membership of the bloc.

Details of the lavish contribution were set out in the annual “Pink Book”, which documents the net flow of financial transactions between the UK and the rest of the world.

Brexit campaigners last night seized on the figure as fresh reminder of why voters backed quitting the EU and a confirmation of the urgent need to cut ties with Brussels as soon as possible.

And they pointed out that the figures put the UK on course to hand more than £22 billion from Brussels over the period from last year’s vote to quit the EU and the country’s scheduled exit from the bloc in March 2019.

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The UK has been paying up since joining the EEC in 1973

This money should be spent where it is needed in this country and not in Bulgaria, Romania or other parts of the EU

Peter Bone

Senior Tory Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, said: “If we stopped paying into EU coffers, we could save ourselves nearly £14 billion, that would be money we could use for social care, the NHS, reducing the deficit and we could still have some left for tax cuts.

“The message to the Government is get on and get us out of the EU and don’t pay any more money to Brussels.

“This money should be spent where it is needed in this country and not in Bulgaria, Romania or other parts of the EU.”

Craig Mackinlay, Tory MP for South Thanet, said: “Today’s revealing figure of a net contribution of £13.9billion is reason enough for exiting the EU.

“It is little wonder that discussions are stalled over money; the EU is loathed to scale back its empire-building ambitions and the German taxpayer will be unwilling to pick up the bills.”

Peter BoneGETTY

Peter Bone has suggested much many more public works could be funded if we cut EU funding

Ukip MEP Jonathan Arnott said: “To put these figures into context, the net membership fee alone is the equivalent of over 2p in the pound on income tax.

“This isn’t what people thought they were voting for in the EU referendum; we voted to end British cash going to the European Union, not for the tap to keep flowing.

“It truly beggars belief that even these eye-watering amounts of money aren’t giving Theresa May pause to think.

“She’s still agreeing to hand many billions more over to the EU in a so-called ‘divorce bill’, which hasn’t the slightest legal basis.

“British politicians often pretend they have a magic money tree, but the European Union actually has one – it’s called the British taxpayer.”

John O’Connell, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: “British taxpayers will be disappointed to learn that we still give so much money each year to the EU.

“This comes at a time when many Brits are struggling with the high cost of living and when the EU is attempting to force even more money from the UK in the form of a ‘divorce bill’.

“This is money that should be spent on essential services such as the NHS, education or the military, or better yet left in peoples’ pockets.”

Figures in the “Pink Book 2016” showed the Britain’s gross contribution to Brussels last year was a total of £18.9 billion, equivalent to £363million a week.

Out of that sum, the country received £5 billion back as a result of the financial rebate negotiated by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984.

Officials also calculated that a further £4.4 billion out of the gross contribution was spent on agricultural subsidies and grants to public-sector bodies in the UK.

Around £2.4 billion was spent through the EU’s Agricultural Guarantee Fund and a further £359 million came through the European Regional Development Fund.

It means Britain’s net contribution to the EU in 2016 amounted to £9.4billion.

However, Euro-sceptics argue that the EU spending should be counted as part of the overall contribution because Brussels rather than the Government decides where the cash is spent.

The £13.9 billion total is equivalent to £212 for every person in the UK in 2016 and amounts to 1.7 per cent of total Government spending during the year.

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The UK paid out £13.9 billion last year, £212 per person on the UK

The figures take Britain’s total contribution to the Brussels budget since the country joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973 to a mammoth total of £375,296 billion.

Figures in the ONS Pink Book also showed that UK exports of goods and services to the rest of the world were higher than UK exports to the EU for the eight year in a row.

Exports to non-EU countries were worth around £312 billion in 2016, an 8 per cent increase on the previous year, and strong evidence of worldwide demand for British goods and services.

Exports to EU countries were around £236 billion in 2016, a 3 per cent increase since 2015.

The fastest growing export market for the UK since 2010 was South Korea, with exports increasing by 97 per cent to £6.1 billion.

Japan moved into third position after buying £12.5 billion worth of UK goods and services, an increase of 61 per cent since 2010.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “Today’s figures confirm that British goods and services are in demand across the globe, and non-EU markets like South Korea and Japan are becoming more important for UK exports.

“It’s a trend predicted by the European Commission themselves, who say 90% of global growth over the next 20 years will come from outside EU.

“As an international economic department we will make sure the UK is positioned to benefit, with a dynamic and experienced team to negotiate free trade deals, and more support for British businesses that want to export and international businesses who want to invest in the UK.”