EU grants protected if UK leaves, Vote Leave claims


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Vote Leave said farming subsidies could be protected if the UK quits the EU

Ministers campaigning to leave the European Union say recipients of EU funding would get the same money if the UK votes to leave.

EU funding projects for areas including farming, science, and culture would be continued until 2020, they said.

They said the payments could be made more efficiently, allowing for more cash for priorities such as the NHS.

But Remain campaigners said leaving the EU would “wreck Britain’s economy” and trigger public spending cuts.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Vote Leave’s open letter, signed by ex-London mayor Boris Johnson and ministers including Michael Gove and Priti Patel, sounded like “a pledge of a government in waiting”.

Vote Leave has no power to make public spending promises – but is trying to reassure recipients of EU money their funding would be safe, he added.

The UK votes on whether to remain in the EU or to leave on 23 June.

In other developments:

  • Leaders of some of the country’s biggest trade unions have signed a letter saying they are worried leaving the EU will be “a disaster for working people”
  • The Leave campaign has accused EU officials of spending taxpayers’ money on “outrageous and excessive” expenses
  • The Sun newspaper has backed a vote to leave, urging its readers to “set ourselves free from dictatorial Brussels”. A Stronger In source said this “surprises absolutely no-one who has even glanced at the paper recently”.

The ministers’ letter claims that as an EU member, the UK is liable for billions of pounds in tax refunds for big businesses, saying savings could also be made through taxing offshore companies if it votes to leave.

“It is therefore clear that there is more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU – including universities, scientists, family farmers, regional funds, cultural organisations and others – will continue to do so while also ensuring that we save money that can be spent on our priorities,” it adds.

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The letter also said the “official bill” for the UK’s EU membership was over £350m a week. Vote Leave’s use of the £350m figure has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority and the Institute for Fiscal Studies as “potentially misleading”, as it does not include the UK’s rebate.

But in the letter, Vote Leave said the UK had no control of the money and “could not count” on its rebate.

It has previously called for an extra £100m a week to be spent on the NHS if the UK leaves.

Britain Stronger in Europe dismissed the analysis and said the Leave campaign had made 24 spending commitments totalling over £113bn, eclipsing the claimed saving made from leaving the EU.

Remain campaigner and former chancellor Alistair Darling said “just about every economic expert” had said leaving the EU would “wreck” the UK economy.

He added: “The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said leaving would lead to a £40bn black hole in the public finances, and nine out of 10 economists say leaving would damage the economy.

“The Leave campaign have had to abandon their key spending pledge after using misleading figures and have been caught pledging their claimed saving 10 times over.

“This fantasy economics shows that leaving is too big a risk to take.”

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