What the EU costs YOU: UK forks out staggering amounts to Brussels – this is the REAL toll

BRITAIN has paid a staggering £375billion to Brussels over the last 43 years, official figures have revealed.

Data released to MPs at Westminster showed UK taxpayers have contributed the eye-watering sum to the budgets of the European Union and its predecessor the European Community from 1973 until last year.

Euro-sceptics insisted the colossal payment means the country should not be forced to pay a so-called “divorce fee” to leave the bloc.

They spoke out as MPs were voting at Westminster last night on the Government’s crunch EU Withdrawal Bill that has been drafted to ensure a smooth departure from the bloc.

Richard Tice, co-chairman of the Brexit-backing pressure group Leave Means Leave, said: “This truly staggering amount of money shows what the real cost of EU membership has been to the UK.

“The British people should feel vindicated by their decision to leave this anti-democratic, bureaucratic bloc that has drained us of money and sovereignty over many decades.

“In light of these shocking new statistics, UK negotiators should stand firm against extortionate and unsubstantiated EU demands for tens of billions of pounds as a divorce bill.”

The total cost of the UK’s contribution to the Brussels budget was revealed in a briefing paper released by the House of Commons during Parliament’s summer recess.

Britain’s total net contribution to Brussels in current (2016) prices between 1973 and last year was £374.5billion after the budget rebate and other refunds are taken into account, the document shows.

When grants from Brussels directly to public-sector bodies in Britain are included, the figure falls to £183.7billion.

However, Eurosceptics argue that the larger figure should be used to assess the cost of Britain’s membership of the European bloc because decisions about where such cash were taken by the European Commission.

Britain’s annual contribution to Brussels has soared from £1.8billion in 1973 in today’s prices after the country first joined the European Community to £13.1billion last year, the figures show.

According to the document, British taxpayers are forecast to pay at least a further £28billion in annual contributions before the country quits the EU in March 2019.

But EU officials are demanding up to another £90billion on top of that sums in an exit fee.

The issue of the bill has become a major sticking point in the talks on Britain’s exit and led to tetchy exchanges between EU Exit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The revelation came as MPs were set to vote last night to allow the EU Withdrawal Bill to allow Brexit to take place smoothly to progress.

The bill was imperilled by Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to break his election pledge and order Labour MPs to vote the bill down.

But he was faced by a serious rebellion led by senior Labour MP Caroline Flint, who is a former Europe Minister and insisted that the will of the people in the referendum must be respected.

In an attack on party colleagues, Ms Flint said: “I voted and campaigned for the UK to remain.

“Not in a metropolitan city or university town, but in a seat where I knew the Leave vote was the likely outcome.”

She accused the Labour front bench of wanting to “frustrate” Brexit pointing out that it would be virtually impossible to introduce a replacement bill.

Veteran Labour MP Frank Field also made it clear that he will defy the party whip saying that the bill “is essential for the referendum result to be implemented.”

He added: “That was the wish of my constituents and the wish of the country.”

Meanwhile Tory MPs pointed out that the vote last night was on the “principle” not the detail and anybody who voted against it was opposing the wishes of the British people.

Tory Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns pointed out that the Labour leadership has made so many U-turns that it was “inspired by Heinz – 57 varieties of Brexit”.

He said: “The shadow home secretary supports free movement. The leader of the opposition and the shadow Brexit secretary say it must end.

“The deputy leader says we would stay in the single market forever. The shadow chancellor says we should leave the single market to respect the referendum.

“The shadow trade secretary has described staying in the customs union as ‘a disaster’, and the shadow Brexit secretary supports staying in a customs union, while the deputy leader of the Labour Party says we could stay in the customs union indefinitely.”

Longstanding Brexit campaigner Peter Bone told MPs that the vote came after “years of voting for similar bills”.

He said: “It ends the EU institutional control over this country and our laws.”

However, MPs who support Leave also raised concerns over the so-called Henry VIII clauses of ministers taking on extra powers without getting approval from parliament.

Tory former minister Sir Edward Leigh said: “We’ve heard a lot about Henry VIII, when I was a rebel I used to care about these things.

“Now I’m a loyalist, I let the Government get away with it in so many ways.

“I mean, Henry VIII is a bastard, but he’s my kind of bastard.”

But he urged the government to introduce a scrutiny committee to bring delegated measures back for a vote in the House.

The Bill was set to pass after Brexit Secretary David Davis indicated he was “in listening mode” to make changes at the committee stage.

September 12th, 2017: Express