Ever since Boris upgraded his French "get control" Renault truck to the bright red German Neoplan Starliner bus his big message is about £350 million per week which he'd give "to NHS". Plus figures about impacts on workers and pensioners. Some are calling his figure misleading or mis-representational.
That's part of the challenge with this situation. Because of the complexities, a vote almost needs to be a categorised (e.g.) 55%/45% split rather than a 100%/0% binary option.
Confusingly, the 'IN' bus is also red, courtesy of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party - Notice it's IN, not Remain. All the buses are being referred to as 'battle buses', which was the term given to the London double decker buses used in the First World War to transport British troops to the terrible front line fighting in Europe a century ago.
Then we get wing nut Ozza on telly a couple of days ago brandishing part of an Airbus. It was good form of distraction, like that well-expensed MEP who keeps showing us his slippery passport. Again we had numbers, but most of it designed as one-liner headlines contradicting whatever the other person says.
No wonder the electorate is hacked off with politicians.
My own attempt to cut through the numbers gave me some interesting points.
- The weekly spending on EU after adjustments, is around £136m per week. I know it still sounds a lot, but at governmental spending levels it really isn't
- The net contribution per member of UK population (64m), per year from UK to the EU is £86.38.
- The net spend per UK worker (31m) per year, from UK to EU is £175.34. More than a TV licence, but less than a Sky subscription.
- These figures and their gross equivalents are a drop in the ocean compared with the government's overall spending of somewhere between £759-772 billion per annum.
I decided to tabulate the biggest UK government spending items for 2015/2016.
- After state pensions and welfare, healthcare becomes the second biggest spending category with a current run rate of €3,774 (£2,948) million per week.
- The entire unadjusted EU budget of £11bn is 1.42% of the total run-rate, and after the adjustments is 0.72%. A lot of money, but small in the scheme of running a national budget.
- The amount of interest being paid on the national debt is six times as much as the EU spend.
- The concept of leverage of the EU funding has hardly been raised. That'd be the swing of gain or loss resultant from changing/removing the payment. The average annual exports to EU are about £220bn. Around a 3% downturn as a result of hiccups with trade agreements would neutralise the EU contribution.
Quite interesting (click through for a bigger version), but not as interesting as how it plays out after the adjustments have been made.
It is clearer with this about who are the net funding beneficiaries and those that are net givers. I could observe that the ends of this chart seem disproportionate. Maybe the EU understand this better, although when I looked at their budget at a glance publication it was over 2,200 pages long and started with a semi-permeable membrane of stuff about sugar taxes.
I know, I've only picked on one of the topics and lightly dusted through it. It illustrates the complexity of this whole thing and the increasing likelihood that many people will vote instinctively on the day.
Me, I've already voted.