£230 for every single man, woman, and child in the country. Not including other costs - the trade deficit, fines, and over-regulation of business, to name a few - that is now the impact of EU membership on the wallets of every single one of us. As reported by an article in The Independent, not exactly a publication known for its fierce right-wing rhetoric. Britain's net contribution to the EU, it turns out, has defied the previous trend of increasing by one third per annum. It has doubled in 2010.
It would pay for:
The Ministry of Justice (£9.7 billion)
Army field units (£8 billion)
The Royal Air Force (£7.7 billion)
The Royal Navy (£7.3 billion)
The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (£6.8 billion)
The equipment budget at the Ministry of Defence (£6.1 billion)
The pay and pensions budget at the Ministry of Defence (£5.61 billion)
The War in Afghanistan (£2.6 billion)
You can see what else it would pay for here. This is nothing short of economic vandalism; hundreds of thousands of jobs, schools, houses, pensions, arms, ships, and salaries could have been saved, were it not for the spiralling costs of EU membership. If this doubling of the costs of the EU sets a precedent - as well it might - then remaining part of the EU is simply unaffordable, on both financial and social grounds. It is simply unacceptable that a government can destroy the livelihoods of so many people to improve the roads of Poland and subsidise the traditional lifestyle of French farmers, and, of course, to keep the operators of the EU's beaurocratic machinery in the luxurious lifestyle to which it has become accustomed.
It is the first role of government, irrespective of its place on the political spectrum, to put its people first. The coalition government has shown that it is unwilling to do so. It has offered no resistance to the economic burden of EU membership - it has watched, even cheered, as hundreds of pounds are taken out of the budget of every family in the country at a time of austerity and soaring costs of basic utilities - fuel, gas, and electricity have risen, food, oil, and petrol have risen, and salaries have shrank. The last thing that the people of Britain want or need is the intervention of an unelected institution taking so much of their income for no real benefit to them. The government has decimated the military capability of Britain; it has clipped the wings of the air force, grounded the navy, and has even told thousands of soldiers serving in the deserts of Afghanistan that they face redundancy, when, at the same time, it hands over enough money to pay for the lot of them without any protest whatsoever. It is ready and willing to wreck the careers of millions of students; to put them in tens of thousands of pounds of debt before they even own their own house. But the tiny £2.6 billion saved by pushing university fees up to £9,000 isn't even worth a third of what we pay to the EU. At a time when your job prospects and disposable income are rapidly disappearing, the costs of the EU have grown vastly disproportionate to any benefits. It is not only burning a hole in the national economy - it is burning a whole in your own economy.
If Britain left the EU, just think of the possibilities. Its military capability - at a time when we are currently involved in three conflicts - would be restored, if not increased. Its soldiers would not be sacked on the front line. Your successful sons and daughters would go to university and have a prosperous career. Their studies will no longer be restrained by £9,000 fees. You will no longer have to watch the pennies - the EU would no longer cost you £230 a year, and taxes could be lowered as a result. And the hundreds of thousands of jobs that will be lost could be saved - in fact, with an extra £9 billion, millions could be created, when the budget surplus is restored. To quote MEP Gerard Batten, 'the question should not be whether can afford to leave but how we can afford to stay in.'