Forget extra NHS cash, Brexit costs Britain £173m every week, or £1m per hour

Friday 06 May 2022 2:19 pm

The campaign bus that Boris Johnson and others used in 2016 to campaign for Britain’s departure from the EU

Remember the Brexit bus promise: ‘We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote leave’?

The truth increasingly seems that quitting the European Union means there is £173m a week less to spend on the NHS, according to calculations based on recent ONS and UK Government data.

Weighing up the cost of EU membership versus lost EU exports since Brexit, Brexit has cost the UK £9bn a year, or around £173m a week, about £25m per day, or just over £1m every single hour.

Studying the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data and comparing the UK Government’s annual contributions to the EU versus lost EU exports by examining data for 2018, the last year before pre-Brexit preparations skewed data, and comparing it with 2021 figures, it turns out that far from bringing in £350m a week to lavish on the NHS, the UK as a whole is £9bn out of pocket.

The UK Government was scheduled to pay £20bn for its membership contribution to the EU in 2018. However, the UK’s negotiated annual rebate, officially known as the “Fontainbleau abatement”, of £4.5bn reduced the cost to £15.5bn.

Additionally, £4.5bn came back to the UK in credits for programs such as the EU Agricultural Guarantee Fund, at £2.2bn, and the EU European Regional Development Fund, at £0.7bn.

Given these figures, the ONS said that the UK Government’s net contribution to the EU – that is, the difference between the money it paid to the EU and the money it received – was £11bn in 2018.

Compare this to the loss in exports to the EU. The ONS reported that UK exports of goods to the EU fell by -£20bn in 2021, compared with 2018, the last period of stable trade.

“Even if we subtract the true £11bn cost of EU membership for 2018, from the £20bn drop in EU export earnings, UK plc is still £9bn poorer than it was in 2018,” said David Jinks, head of consumer research at international transport firm ParcelHero, which carried out the research.

“In January 2021 alone (the first month of Brexit), the value of goods exported to the European Union fell from £14.3bn in the previous month to £7.8bn,” he stressed.

“Comparing the cost of membership to lost EU export trade, Britain is considerably worse off post-Brexit,” Jinks told City AM today.

“Far from saving money, the UK is poorer by £9bn a year, or £173 million a week, after leaving the European Union.”

David Jinks

‘The Brexit Opportunities Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said in February that Brexit is “already a success” and “the evidence that Brexit has caused trade drops is few and far between”.

“If the Brexit Opportunities Minister wishes to retain credibility with the business leaders he is supposed to serve, he could do worse than analyze the ongoing UK-EU trade problems and, in particular, the Northern Ireland Protocol agreement,” Jinks concluded.

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