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SIDEBAR Boris Johnson: Disputed claim on Brexit windfall was too low

Europe
16.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reignited debate on Tuesday over how much Britain will save by leaving the European Union, claiming that a disputed figure used in his Brexit campaign was actually too low.

Johnson revived the controversial claim, used by the Leave campaign he led into the Brexit referendum in June 2016, that leaving the European Union could save Britain more than 350 million pounds (470 million dollars) per week to be spent on public services.

That figure, displayed on the Leave campaign bus, was widely criticized by Remain campaigners as a misrepresentation, but Johnson told The Guardian the "error" on the bus went the other way.

"There was an error on the side of the bus," he told the newspaper. "We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control."

The claimed saving could have been higher since Britain‘s gross contribution to the EU will rise to 438 million pounds by 2021, the anticipated end of a transition period that Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Conservative government is trying to negotiate.

Opposition Labour lawmaker Alison McGovern, a leading supporter of the cross-party, pro-EU group Open Britain, accused Johnson of wanting to "return to the scene of his previous crimes and promise ever larger slices of pie in the sky."

"Boris‘ cabinet cheerleading for leaving the single market and the customs union will lead to less money - not more - for public services like our NHS (National Health Service)," McGovern said.

David Norgrove, head of the government‘s statistics office, wrote an open letter in September complaining that Johnson‘s weekly total of 350 million pounds "confuses gross and net contributions" to the EU and was "a clear misuse of official statistics."

 

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