Business for Britain has been going through the ONS Pink Book – to save the rest of us the trouble. However if you are so inclined follow this link to Part 3: Geographical Breakdown Reference Tables.

Then scroll down to page 23 and weep.

eutableThat gives some context for the European Union’s demands for an extra £1.7bn. What a footling amount in the context of EU budget that is growing out of control and a mechanism which means that we are expected to pick up an increasing share. It is officially entitled “the GNI-based fourth EU own resource” but is more snappily understood as the Success Tax. The greater the folly of socialist Governments on the continent, in France and elsewhere, the higher the burden on British taxpayers.

Actually the figures highlighted by Business for Britain understate the position. They are the net rather than the gross payments. The gross payment for 2013 was £19.4bn. The money we “got back” included £2.5bn of payments under the Agricultural Guarantee Fund – that is payments to British farmers under the disastrous Common Agricultural Policy.

Then there was another £247 million spent under the European Social Fund. Plus another £297 million under the European Regional Development Fund.

Can we really assume that such money would have been spent anyway even if we were not members of the EU?

In some ways these huge figures give credibility to David Cameron’s claims that a significant renegotiation would be possible. Would our EU partners really wish us to depart and leave them to pay their own bills? But it must surely be part of that renegotiation for Mr Cameron to insist on a very substantial reduction in our annual membership subscription for him to recommend to us that we remain in the club.