"Result for Britain": UK's £1.7bn EU bill halved and payment deferred, says chancellor George Osborne

Catherine Neilan
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George Osborne: "Result for Britain" he tweeted earlier today (Source: Getty).
George Osborne has negotiated to halve the £1.7bn bill being demanded by the European Union, adding that the rules are to be changed so “this never happens again”.
The chancellor had travelled to Brussels to get the surcharge, which was calculated by statistical authority Eurostat, dropped.
The government had spoken out against the bill previously, with Prime Minister David Cameron defiantly stating he would not be paying it on deadline day, December 1.
The additional payment had been demanded after the inclusion of “black economy” sectors such as drugs and prostitution were included in the UK's GDP estimates, pushing up the country's economic performance.
After negotiations today, Osborne tweeted the outcome, saying the “unacceptable” bill had been halved, delayed, and that no interest would be paid.
“Result for Britain,” he added.
“We will pay c. £850m in total, in instalments in 2nd half of next year,” he said.
“I've had intensive and constructive discussions with other countries & Commission. EU rules will be changed forever so this never happens again.”
However critics have accused the chancellor of "smoke and mirrors" and "spin", claiming the reduction in the bill has come about because of the UK's rebate, which was always expected to come through.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said taxpayers had not saved "a single penny" from the deal.
He told the BBC: "By counting the rebate Britain was due anyway, they are desperately trying to claim that the backdated bill for £1.7bn has somehow been halved.
"But nobody will fall for this smoke and mirrors. The rebate was never in doubt and in fact was confirmed by the EU Budget Commissioner last month."
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has also called Osborne out over his claims, tweeting that it was "spin" and that "his credibility is about to nose dive".
"It's a sham," he added.
The UK was not the only country asked to top up its contribution – though it was by far the biggest bill.
Italy, Greece and Cyprus were also asked to make extra contributions, while France and Germany are set for refunds.

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