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£350 Million

I’m trying not to post too much about Thursday’s EU referendum but it is looming close and it is a significant, one-time only choice. My already fragile resolution was pushed over the edge by the clutch of leaflets I had waiting for me at home last night. There were a couple urging me to remain, a couple urging me to leave and a printed slip of paper with a couple of sentences suggesting I should watch the Brexit movie (which, as I understand it, is on the leave side).

Overall, I’ve had more from the remain camp, including a visit from the local Labour councillor who was taking time to go from door to door (the local branch of the party are brilliant at taking time to visit the area). What spurred me to write was that both leaflets for the leave side featured the figure of £350 million as a prominent headline. According to some, widely-discredited calculations, this is the amount the UK gives to Europe each week but it is demonstrably wrong. Even if you ignore the wider economic benefits to the UK of remaining in Europe as a way of offsetting it, the number fails to take into account the rebate (which means we transfer a little under 3/4 of that figure) and the amount that the EU gives back to a whole host of UK beneficiaries (like farmers, poorer regions and in research funding).

It strikes me as deeply dishonest to keep pushing such an erroneous figure. It is far too late now to advise the various leave campaigners on what might have convinced me of their cause but constant use of a broken number as if, by repetition, it might become true, would not be part of that package. It is a shame they printed the leaflets on such glossy paper but at least the recycling gets taken away tomorrow morning.

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