It’s official – George Osborne lied when he said he had halved the £1.7 billion EU budget surcharge, and his claim that he had achieved a “real result for Britain” was nonsense.Even more stinging must be the fact that this rebuke comes from a fellow Conservative – Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee.
“The suggestion that the £1.7 billion bill demanded by the European Union was halved is not supported by published information,” he said in a report by the committee.
“The terms of the UK’s rebate calculation are set out in EU law. It should, therefore, have been clear that the rebate would apply.”
The Treasury Committee’s report confirms what Vox Political stated the day after Osborne made his ill-advised claim.
Its report did, however, recognise the government’s “achievement” in extending the payment period and avoiding interest charges – although this was managed in conjunction with every other EU member state that found itself facing the prospect of extra payments, and was not an achievement of the UK government alone.
What does Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition have to say about this? At the time, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls told us, “David Cameron and George Osborne are trying to take the British people for fools.”
Has Labour’s attitude softened? No.
“This damning cross-party report exposes George Osborne’s claim to have halved the EU budget surcharge to be totally untrue,” said Chris Leslie, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
“He must now apologise to taxpayers for making this completely false claim.
“Too many times this Chancellor has desperately tried to use smoke and mirrors to fool the British people. He has been caught out again and his credibility is further undermined.
“People will now treat the false claims he makes in the coming weeks with the contempt they deserve.”
And that is the problem for our part-time Chancellor.
He has undermined his own credibility and that of his party.
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