There are benefits to EU membership, but they are far outweighed by the costs.
Despite all Alistair Darling’s talk of prudence, one budget is ballooning. Britain’s net contributions to the EU rose from £3.1 billion last year to £6.4 billion this, and will rise to £7.6 billion next year.
Even these figures understate the real cost. True, some of the money we hand over to Brussels is spent in Britain, but it’s not necessarily spent on things we would have chosen for ourselves. Citing our net contribution is like arguing that the basic rate of income tax, rather than being 22 pence in the pound, is in fact zero, because the whole sum is “given back” in roads, schools and hospitals. Britain’s gross contribution to the EU budget this year is projected to be (depending on whose figures we take) between £12.8 billion and £14.4 billion. In other words, we are spending twice as much on this single item as would be saved by all the reductions announced by George Osborne last October put together.
Even those who believe that we owe something to our European neighbours should find it incredible that our country is borrowing in order to give.
How many people would run up credit card debt in order to give to charity?