BREXIT ROW: Boris refuses cash from EU's £727m pot – despite UK paying to prop up bloc


    Boris Johnson could have claimed from the £727 million pot to spend on supporting the NHS throughout the pandemic. The Brussels fund, originally established to offer support after natural disasters, such as earthquakes or flooding, was extended to cover the health emergency. The scheme was proposed to help member states to pay for much-needed personal protective equipment, development of vaccines or medicines and even public health checks.

    The EU’s richest states, including France, Germany and Italy, as well as accession candidate Albania all applied to access funds.

    In total, the European Commission received 22 applications from member states and accession candidates.

    Under the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, the UK agreed to finance its existing obligations to the bloc’s budget for 2020 – including the EU Solidarity Fund.

    A Government request for cash could have helped claw back much of the estimated £87 million paid into the fund by UK taxpayers.

    A Government spokeswoman said: “The UK Government has not made any applications to the EU Solidarity Fund in response to COVID-19.”

    Downing Street has remained resolute that it would not apply for EU grants after taking the country out of the bloc earlier this year.

    No10’s stance comes despite Britain remaining applicable for funding under the terms of the post-Brexit transition period.

    UK officials have argued that the Solidarity Fund does not offer practical public healthcare support and was only set up to provide financial aid.

    Former Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe said Leavers would have no problem with Mr Johnson reclaiming taxpayers’ cash from Brussels.

    Mr Lowe said: “As it stands in transition we currently have the worst of both worlds. Fully paying members, but with no influence whatsoever. We pay millions of pounds every day and get a minuscule amount of that back.

    “I see no issue in reclaiming British taxpayers’ money to help the country recover. Let the loony Remainers moan about it. They will continue to play politics, but we need to focus on getting the country back on its feet.”

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    The Office of Budget Responsibility has claimed the final bill could be as much as £298 billion for the financial year between April 2020 and April 2021.

    Before the crisis, the Government was expecting to borrow around £55 billion.

    And Mr Johnson will vow to continue spending to ensure those who were hit hardest by austerity will not be made to pay for repairing the UK’s coronavirus-stricken economy.

    The Prime Minister will on Tuesday deliver an address to reset the agenda for the country.

    He will promise to usher in a “decade of investment”, setting out a recovery plan that will bring forward infrastructure spending and speed up the planning system.


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