Response to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech regarding the customs union

The big question about Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today was whether it will make it easier, or harder, for the UK to negotiate a good deal with the European Union. He’s just answered that question: it’ll be harder.

When people voted to leave the European Union, we voted to take back control over our finances, our laws, our courts, our borders and our right to sign trade deals with other nations.

For the last 45 years, Jeremy Corbyn has voted for eurosceptic principles. Today Jeremy Corbyn betrays Jeremy Corbyn, betrays Brexit, and betrays you.

Whatever weasel words they use, substituting ‘the’ for ‘a’, today is the day that Labour make clear they do not support the will of the British people. They do not support the referendum result, in which more people voted Leave than have ever voted for anything in British political history. They do not support their own General Election Manifesto, to which scores of Labour MPs owe their seats. They no longer stand by repeated statements of their own leadership and Shadow Cabinet, and they place themselves firmly against the spirit of the European Union (notification of withdrawal) Act 2017, for which so many of them voted and on which they had a three-line whip.

Perhaps it is time for honest, decent Labour MPs to consider whether they can continue to take the Labour whip when the Labour whip has so fundamentally changed.


Claims about North East economy slammed by MEP

An Independent North East politician has slammed false Remain claims that the North East economy will drop by 16% in the event of a hard Brexit, suggesting that they are not only misinterpreting Treasury data, but that the data has a proven track record of being flawed.

Jonathan Arnott, an independent member of the European Parliament for North East England, said:

“Actual recent empirical evidence suggests that we shouldn’t believe a word of it.  Let’s look at the facts from recent Treasury predictions.

“The Treasury projected that the UK would fall into recession and lose between 3% and 6% of GDP in the last 18 months. Real data shows the economy has grown in every single quarter. They projected the loss of between half a million and 800,000 jobs over the last 18 months. The reality is that jobs have been created.

“Now they’re projecting not over 18 months but over 15 years. If they’re so wildly wrong in 18 months, why does anyone suppose they’ll be right over 15 years? For pity’s sake, even Government Ministers are saying these figures should come with a health warning.

“The reason these figures are always out is that they consider the downside rather than the upside. Nobody ever factors in the benefits of Brexit; the ability to negotiate trade deals with third countries, the ability to get rid of unnecessary EU regulations, or run a more competitive economic policy.

“Here in the North East, the figures have the worst projections in the UK – and why? Because for a region that trades more than any other with non-EU countries, the failure to consider the benefits of Brexit will mean the figures are more wrong than anywhere else in the UK.

“Now there’s all kinds of misinformation and propaganda being spread about this: continuity Remainers are trying to make it sound like these figures predict the economy contracting. In fact, they predict it growing at a slower rate.

“The 16% prediction is a worst-case scenario, spread over 15 years, and is based upon about as much proven track record as using a crystal ball to predict this week’s lottery results,” said Mr Arnott.

Response to UKIP statement

I have read the UKIP statement requesting that I step down as an MEP after my resignation from the Party. In that statement UKIP claims that such a decision is a ‘matter of honour’ because, before I was elected in 2014, I agreed not to step down from the Party.

In employment law, there is a principle called ‘constructive dismissal’. An employer, basically, can’t make your work situation so horrible and intolerable that there’s no reasonable way you could stay in the job – and use this as an underhand tactic to sack you despite having no legal grounds to do so. When I agreed not to step down, everyone knew that this commitment was not binding and it contained an inherent presumption that the Party would still remain broadly the same organisation that it was when I was elected. The Party has fundamentally changed its people, tone, rhetoric, policies, and style to the extent that it is unrecognisable in 2018 from the one for which I stood for election in 2014. Nobody in their right mind could possibly consider this Party to be the same organisation as it was back then.

I am not alone in thinking this. Up to 70% of the members have left; councillors have been resigning across the country, and in many regions the Party lacks even the most basic Party infrastructure because regional officials have resigned. The state of devastation within the Party is hard to underestimate. I stayed within the Party far longer than I should have, precisely out of respect to those members who chose to stay.

For accuracy I should point out that I have had phone calls from three senior people in the Party (and also from a number of MEPs) who have told me the Party is obliged to request my resignation for form’s sake, but that they privately completely understand and respect my decision.

An environment in which it’s not possible to have a straightforward meeting without the contents being leaked to the press is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment where colleagues scream at each other across a room is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment in which NEC members spam each other with vitriolic emails several times a day is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment in which the aim is to attack your colleagues not your political opponents is not one in which it is practical to work.

When I resigned I made it quite clear that I have no intention of creating further unnecessary damage to the Party; therefore, so long as the Party does not dispute the accuracy of this statement, I will keep all corroborating evidence to myself. They know my words to be true; I know my words to be true, but I will not embarrass them by proving what we all know to be the case.

The reaction I’ve received to my resignation was unexpected. I have received dozens of messages of support from current and former UKIP members. There has been a co-ordinated attempt to get members to contact me and seek my resignation; despite this co-ordination, those messages are still outweighed by positive messages I’ve received by a margin of roughly 4 to 1 by those who supported UKIP when I was elected.

A flavour of the messages I’ve received in support can be found below. My advice to UKIP, for what it’s worth, would be not to have a go at me – that would be to fall into the same internal infighting trap that it’s been doing over the last couple of years – but to deal with their own underlying issues. It all shows just how insular UKIP has become. Basic ‘customer service’ principles should teach the Party that. Don’t tell your ‘customers’ that they’re wrong, and that they really want your product even when they don’t: instead, make sure that your product is something they actually want to buy. If UKIP retained any desire to become a professional, credible Party, then it would be addressing these concerns rather than attacking me.

If the Party truly cared about its future, should it not have been striving to get people like me, who have served this Party diligently for 17 years, back – rather than acting in a manner which appears designed to burn bridges rather than to mend fences?

[NB: Grammar left ‘as is’. Many more messages omitted including simple ‘well done/good luck’ type messages, most of those on Twitter, some duplication, messages from family, most of those received by email, etc.]

“I am afraid to say that UKIP has lost its way, the party once gave meaning and purpose to thousands of us who were dissatisfied with the status quo in politics. Thank you Jonathan for your loyalty to all us members, you will be missed.”

“Well done, wise choice. A single intellectual with a bucket is never going to save a sinking ship.”

“You didn’t abandoned UKIP, UKIP abandoned you. I know you didn’t make the decision lightly.”

“I can’t say I blame you. I’m not renewing my membership.”

“I’m sad to see you go,but understand clearly why. Good luck in all you do. You can not repair the party alone and neither should you feel the need to hold on when others clearly don’t help.”

“What you said was spot on. I can’t publicise my agreement, but you have my wholehearted support. Well done for saying it.”

“Sorry to hear this Jon but completely understand. It’s a shame that UKIP has not kicked on as it should have. It basically leaves people like me without a party.”

“Best wishes Jonathan you always do the right thing.”

“Principles before party. Excellent priority Jonathan. Well done for sticking with it so long!”

“It’s a shame as you’ve dedicated your life to this but your work was not in vain. It must have been very hard to take this decision.”

“I honestly cannot say I blame you. I’m struggling myself to remain a member. A shame really. It is the only political party I ever joined – as I never ever wanted to get involved in politics.”

“Thank you sir for all of the fine work that you have done. I am afraid that I too have ‘resigned’ from UKIP for very much the same reasons. Best of luck for the future!”

“So sorry to hear this. Another good man leaves. Good luck with whatever you choose to do in the future.”

“Your decision is a massive loss to all the decent people in UKIP Mr Arnott. It is sad that a once great movement has been eaten alive by the cancer within at the very top that has seen so many of the really decent senior people leave.”

“Hi Jonathan, just wanted to wish you the best of luck in your political future, whatever that involves. I totally understand how you feel.”

“Always had a lot of time for Jonathan and he has helped me with his guidance and vast experience and dedication to Ukip People look up to you and when a man of your high standing quits Well I think we are doomed”

“It’s nice to meet genuine people in politics. I too have given up on the Party because of all the embarrassing infighting.”

“Sent you a message in im [Instant Message] you are right the party has changed.”

“I totally understand Jonathon, I have been effectively kicked out by my old Chairman and will not be renewing my membership. It looks like a lot of good people are leaving and all I can say is will the last person in the party turn off the lights”

“You have always been a sane and reasoned voice in an increasingly bizarre organisation and you deserve better.”

“You have to follow your own beliefs. Denying this you become a traitor to yourself. Follow your heart and you will serve your followers truly. Please keep us all informed about what’s going on in Brussels. Best of luck.”

“Tough call for you to make I’m sure and I’m sure anyone who matters wll respect you for what you’ve done over the last 17 years and not the last few hours. Good luck and please shout if you ever feel I can help you in any way.”

“I am so sorry to see you go, you frankly deserved better”

“Sad news Jonathan… I do not wish to say too much (politically) but suffice to thank you for your dedication to UKIP in our region.”

“Sensible move. UKIP has lost the plot.”

“Very sad to see your statement and resignation, it’s a decision I believe many are making right now also. I hope you know I’ll continue to support anything you’re doing”

“You’re well out of it UKIP’s a dead duck”

“So sorry you’ve left. You’ve been a tremendous asset but the last 18 months have been, shall we say, difficult.”

“Its a pity all those who have resigned can’t get together a form a new party.I don’t blame you for resigning I resigned last September as I could see where UKIP was going and it wan’t a nice place. Good Luck to you”

“I understand mate  A lot have not renewed including me . Keep up the fight”

“UKIP left you long before you left them. You’ve done the right thing.”

“We continue to lose good people at ukip sorry to here this news Jonathan”

“Good sensible and honest comments and statement and one almost all UKIP members and supporters can heartily agree with and understand.”

“I agree, UKIP has had some good , honest people at the top but for one reason or another they have been forced to leave. I remember being so enthusiastic when I joined the Party. Nigel was the leader and I was happy to deliver leaflets and stand on street corners in the cold and rain to encourage people to vote for UKIP. I was ecstatic when Leave won the Referendum and thought that the Party was on its way up but then the rot set in!”

“All the best for the future whatever you decide respect your decision and you as a person”

“Sad to hear that Jonathan. It’s a pity the wrong people are leaving, seems the political party of the people has been dismantled from the inside!”

“Well said Jonathan. Congratulations on all that you and UKIP have achieved under Nigel Farage, which will leave its mark on the history of our nation going forward.”

“Most members know deep down that the Party’s refusal to adapt and evolve means the end for it is inevitable…you were one of UKIP’s wisest.”

“At last an honest man in politics. God bless you for your honesty and good luck to you in all you do.”

Statement on my resignation from the UK Independence Party

Politics has a reputation for nastiness, in-fighting, backstabbing, shameless self-promotion and over-inflated egos. That’s not what it should be. Politics should be about helping to make people’s lives better; I happen to believe this is best achieved through less State control of citizens’ daily lives. Many years ago I joined what was then a tiny political party, speaking about how we can bring democracy back to the people, how we can better protect people from crime, and regain control of our own lawmaking by leaving the European Union.

Under the leadership of Nigel Farage, it succeeded in forcing the Brexit referendum, achieving something historic. It was always a flawed party, but it was the only show in town for anyone who – like me – felt let down and abandoned by an out of touch political establishment.

Give me a lever long enough, Archimedes said, and I will move the world. I do not have a long enough lever. I had hoped that I might be able to help that party to realise its true potential as a Party of the people. I fought hard to persuade it to adopt the ‘no tax on minimum wage’ policy which proved so popular with working people. I worked to get it to broaden its horizons to focus more on helping people with true ‘pavement politics’ and working on behalf of local people in local communities. I took, as a member of the European Parliament, a different approach to most. I made sure to have an excellent attendance record, to speak out in debates, and to try to change things. Consequently, I became the only one of our MEPs to get any of my amendments passed by the full European Parliament – to stop British (and other EU) taxpayers’ money being used to subsidise bullfighting through the EU budget.

I tried my best to avoid the nastiness that pervades modern politics. I believed my party to be different, or at least to be capable of becoming something different. I, like so many others, believed it to have potential and I continued to believe in that potential long after the evidence no longer supported it – out of loyalty to the many honest, hard-working members who still believed in it.

Yet the unpleasant nature – the Steven Woolfe fracas, the Diane James fiasco, the Anne-Marie Waters  debacle, the John-Rees Evans bizarreness, the countless leaks, briefings and character assassinations – became almost as bad as the political establishment I had hoped to counter.

Perhaps there have been occasions where I have been sucked into that atmosphere of negativity and nastiness. If that has happened, I unreservedly apologise.

With yet another new Leader came new forlorn hope. Over the last week it has become abundantly clear that the current Leader is not the right person for the job, but likewise that those jockeying for position and hoping to take his job would be no better. Politics has always been like that, but as true believers in a cause, we always thought ourselves to be different. Once, maybe, but no longer.

I’ll continue to work for all the things I was elected to achieve. I’ll continue to speak out against the unrealistic Corbynista world-view, the Lib Dems’ hypocrisy, and the dog’s breakfast this government is making of the negotiation through its negative, surrendering mindset.

My Party has, over the last year, significantly shifted its position on cultural and religious issues. This has, as is a matter of public record, placed it at considerable variance with my own views.

All of this, however untenable my situation became, I would have continued to work from within to change – if the Party were still a vehicle for achieving positive pressure on the government over Brexit. That is no longer the case. The lack of response to Labour’s betrayal over the EU Withdrawal Bill speaks volumes about a Party attacking itself rather than attacking its opponents.

There have been lovely, caring, wonderful people in UKIP over the years – people who are as far from the media stereotype of UKIP members as the North Pole is from the South. Many, like me, have seen no alternative but to take the course of action I must now also take with a heavy heart.

As an independent, I’ll continue to represent my constituents to the very best of my ability. Hopefully, unencumbered by the sewer of Party politics, I’ll have more time to devote to what should always be the most important part of anyone’s job in politics: representing and serving people.

After nearly 17 years of trying to make this Party something I could be proud to represent, I do not take this decision lightly but there is no longer any alternative.

Statement on tonight’s House of Commons vote

My statement on tonight’s House of Commons vote: MPs should consider the consequences of their actions.

Tonight the House of Commons has spoken, on a vote of 309 to 305, to require the future UK-EU deal to be approved by a statute passed by Parliament. Those who supported this motion are seeking to undermine Brexit whilst simultaneously trying to appropriate the language of Brexiteers.

In his famous dictionary, Dr. Johnson wrote that patriotism is ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’. Ambrose Bierce disagreed, saying ‘I beg to submit that it is the first’. They refer to those who, whilst holding blatant disregard for their nation, falsely drape themselves in the flag to avoid scrutiny.

This evening, MPs have draped themselves in the language of Parliamentary sovereignty and democracy. They will achieve precisely the opposite. It appears that they have short memories. On June 23rd 2016, the British people voted for Brexit. More people did so than have voted for anything else in the entire history of our nation. On June 8 2017, both Conservative and Labour MPs were elected on Manifesto commitments to ensure Brexit and to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. Over 80% of people voted for them; UKIP suffered at that election precisely because both Conservatives and Labour went to the polls pledging to honour the referendum commitment.

There can be no shred of doubt that there is a democratic mandate in place for Britain to leave the European Union. To put it another way, I can think of no stronger mandate for anything in history: there can be nothing stronger than the unique combination of 17.4 million people voting for Brexit in a referendum, a General Election result where over 84% of voters backed parties pledging Brexit, and an Act of Parliament passed following a Supreme Court case. Legally, morally, democratically, and democratically again, Brexit must happen.

Those who drape themselves in the notion of Parliamentary sovereignty in a bid to overturn a referendum, a General Election, and an Act of Parliament, are utterly disingenuous. Whether it is the last refuge of a scoundrel or the first, they are betraying their voters.

To Labour and Conservative MPs whose constituencies voted Remain in the referendum, I ask this: When you stood at the General Election in 2017, did you support your Party’s Manifesto commitment to leave the European Union? Your constituents may, unlike many of you, actually respect democracy.

The mandate for leaving the European Union is unarguable. The mandate for leaving the Single Market and Customs Union is unarguable. And it is pure sophistry to argue against the existence a mandate for regaining control over our immigration system, or for British courts to once again become supreme.

When voting on Amendment 7, MPs should have been asking themselves the Golden Question and considering the consequences of their actions: has their decision made it easier or harder for the UK to negotiate a good deal with the European Union?

They have unquestionably made it harder. Stealing the language of Parliamentary sovereignty, they imperil the possibility of Parliament actually regaining genuine sovereignty over the country. Their vote has been welcomed by the European Union’s chief negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt. The European Union will see this vote as a green light to concede even less to the British side during negotiations.

We can now say, without a single shred of doubt, that any ‘deal’ agreed between the UK and the European Union for Brexit will be heavily skewed in favour of the European Union side. I have seen the workings of Mr. Verhofstadt, Mr. Weber, and others, at first hand over a number of years. I’ve sat in the European Parliament chamber and listened to Mr. Juncker speak. Their utter delight at this Parliamentary vote does not come from vague notions of sovereignty, but from a belief that it will allow the European Union the upper hand in negotiations.

Those MPs who voted for Amendment 7 should remember this day, because it is the day that the last remaining vestige of a chance of reaching an amicable and mutually beneficial trade deal between the UK and the European Union disappeared. If you voted for Amendment 7, you have removed all chance of obtaining a good deal. If the United Kingdom now ends up in a no-deal scenario with the European Union, you will have been the proximate cause. You now forfeit any moral right to criticise others for any fault with the final outcome.

The United Kingdom must leave the European Union. There exists no legal mechanism to overturn the triggering of Article 50; that was, after all, the whole basis for the Supreme Court case. The government must urgently prepare for the possibility of a no-deal exit from the European Union, which would also entail paying precisely nothing to the European Union in any ‘divorce bill’. Our Westminster politicians have mismanaged this entire process spectacularly badly. They must be called to account for their actions at the next General Election.

Statement on the UK-EU Brexit agreement

“Senior EU figures are now openly calling for a United States of Europe by 2025; the good news is that we’re getting off the train before it reaches a destination where almost nobody in the UK wants to go.

When the former President of the European Parliament, now the second-most powerful politician in Germany, joins forces with the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, it’s clear they mean business.

Now, more than ever, it’s vital to our nation’s future that we leave the European Union. Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations are indeed a betrayal of what we voted for, but these plans will eventually result in leaving the European Union.

This is not a hard Brexit, nor is it a soft Brexit. It is a slow Brexit.

EU courts will continue to overrule our own for up to 8 years on certain issues. We’ll still be paying to EU projects well beyond the end of 2020. Our fishing waters will not be regained immediately on Brexit Day, but at some indeterminate point beyond it. The question of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been kicked into the long grass.

However big a betrayal this is of our nation, the one silver lining to this cloud is that we will eventually regain our freedom. We will eventually stop paying money to the European Union, and it will eventually leave us regaining our democracy and saving vast sums on EU membership.

The EU ‘divorce bill’ is vast, but watching Remainer faux outrage shows their utter hypocrisy: they have no complaints over the vast sums we pay to the EU every year; this unacceptable amount equates to only two years of gross contributions – an issue on which they remain pathetically silent, being prepared to pay ever-increasing sums in perpetuity.

Having mismanaged negotiations to the point of national embarrassment, Theresa May – or her replacement if her leadership does not survive the coming months – must answer one huge question in the next phase of negotiations. What is the European Union going to give the UK in the next phase in return for acceding to their bloated demands? If their answer is insufficient to justify this King’s Ransom, we must walk away without paying them a penny piece.

Pressure from the DUP forced Theresa May not to concede even more than she did over Northern Ireland. Now pressure from UKIP must keep her from further betrayal as talks progress.”

Budget response

UKIP’s Treasury Spokesman Jonathan Arnott has reacted to ‘a budget of tinkering and gimmicks’, which fails to deal with the real issues underpinning the British economy and fails to plan to take advantage of the opportunities provided by Brexit.Jonathan Arnott said “By failing to plan for Brexit, he plans to fail.

This is a Budget one of tinkering and gimmicks, hammering those who work hard to develop their future and our economy, without dealing with the real issues of planning for Brexit and beyond. To establish ours as a confident, prosperous, optimistic and secure nation post-Brexit takes greater leadership than was on display this afternoon in the House.

“In raising taxes on diesel cars this government is punishing drivers for listening to them. He’s done nothing for hard-working families, trying to pass off the planned increase in the personal tax allowance as something new. But thankfully he’s done the necessary U-turn on universal credit, a policy which wasn’t thought through and was targeting genuine people.”

“He’s talked about housebuilding and affordability, with a whopping £44 billion of taxpayers’ money being promised over 5 years – that’s the equivalent of at least 2p in the pound on Income Tax. This is excessive and it’s not being spent well. We answered the housebuilding question in our General Election Manifesto and showed exactly how we can build enough affordable homes, helping young people to get on the housing ladder and using brownfield sites not greenbelt land. I suggest the Chancellor would do well to read it. Building hundreds of thousands of new, eco-friendly modular houses so tnat young people are able to get their first step on the housing ladder at cost price (with appropriate restrictions on sales to help future generations) would make a massive and rapid difference. However, controlling immigration is still important to ensure that demand is reasonable.

“There was nothing to generate work in areas with plenty of boarded-up houses, nothing to bring jobs back to deprived areas and nothing to enable that housing pool to be opened up. The forgotten and abandoned working classes remain forgotten and abandoned.

“On housing, charging landlords extra for empty properties will unfairly hit landlords who do not qualify for exemptions whilst carrying out essential maintenance. The financial response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy was needed immediately afterwards, not months later with this Budget. It may or may not be too little, but it is certainly too late.

“Most of all, this Budget is one of missed opportunities. If the Chancellor truly cared about our national security, would he not have provided specific funds to reverse cuts to our police, our Border Force and our Armed Forces?

If the Chancellor truly wanted to prepare for Brexit, would he not now be announcing help for British companies through a Presumption of Buying British to replace the EU Procurement Directive, and by ensuring that we procure from British companies wherever it makes sense?”

Hammond’s gaffe insults struggling families

Following Philip Hammond’s gaffe saying there are no unemployed people, local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott has hit back.

“He should try telling young people and the unemployed in my constituency that there are no unemployed people”, said Mr Arnott, the Party’s Treasury spokesman.

“The Chancellor isn’t exactly a newcomer to politics – he must have known the significance of his words, but didn’t immediately correct them in any way. It’s typical of the arrogance of a Conservative Party which claims credit for job creation following the EU referendum – when in fact, a more competitive pound is a bigger reason for the recent fall in unemployment.

“I meet people all the time who genuinely struggle to find employment; it’s Philip Hammond’s job to help them not insult them.

“If he can’t understand the huge difficulties that persist for people in coastal communities, for young people struggling to get on the career ladder, or for people across huge swathes of the North and Midlands ravaged by the decades-long decline in our manufacturing, then quite frankly he’s in the wrong job. After a gaffe like that, no matter what he says in the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, he won’t be trusted.”

“We desperately need a Budget that will support small business growth, and a Brexit that will allow us to regain control over our borders and our fisheries. If we want to be a global leader post-Brexit, we need to roll up our national sleeves and make our nation truly competitive in the long run,” said Mr Arnott.

It is totally wrong that an unelected police officer is arbitrarily choosing not to enforce a law which carries a technical maximum sentence of life in prison

A furious MEP is calling for Mike Barton, the Chief Constable of Durham Police, to be sacked for introducing a scheme to ‘let off’ Class A street dealers.

“It is totally wrong that an unelected police officer is arbitrarily choosing not to enforce a law which carries a technical maximum sentence of life in prison,” said Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East.

“Heroin dealers should not, especially as a matter of policy, escape going to court. His new scheme will just let off those who deal in heroin and cocaine –  which is dealing in death.

“We all know what will happen – there will be ‘career’ dealers who get away without prosecution because when they’re caught, they happen to have a lesser amount on them. They will work the system.

“I’ve known, and worked to help, people whose lives have been ruined by heroin addiction. It’s not just that this decision sends out completely the wrong message. It’s not just that this could result in more people dying. It’s also that we have a top police officer in my constituency who is clearly refusing to enforce the law.

“Mike Barton is giving the green light to criminals. There’s one way to send out a much better message to criminals: he should be sacked,” said Mr Arnott.

UK citizens are the EU’s Magic Money Tree

Local MEP Jonathan Arnott  has pointed out that last year the UK paid the European Union £159 million per week more than it received back.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the total ‘membership fee’ was £363 million per week, but the net figure comes after taking into account our rebate and EU funding.

This means that, between the date of the referendum and leaving the EU in March 2019, the British taxpayer will have forked out – net – an incredible £22.8 billion to the European Union.

UKIP’s Treasury spokesman Jonathan Arnott MEP said: “To put these figures into context, the net membership fee alone is the equivalent of over two pence in the pound on income tax.

“This isn’t what people thought they were voting for in the EU referendum. We voted to end British cash going to the European Union, not for the tap to keep flowing. It truly beggars belief that even these eye-watering amounts of money aren’t giving Theresa May pause to think – she’s still agreeing to hand many billions more over to the EU in a so-called ‘divorce bill’, which hasn’t the slightest legal basis.

“British politicians often pretend they have a magic money tree, but the European Union actually has one. It’s called the British taxpayer.

“In a surprisingly political move by the Office for National Statistics, the figures for 2016 have been calculated differently to all previous years – removing the rebate, in an apparent bid to undermine figures used by Vote Leave during the referendum campaign,” he added.