George Osborne has triumphantly told the nation he has halved the UK’s EU surcharge, before being told that the word ‘half’ doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.
The Chancellor said that the UK will now be able to offset its EU rebate of £850m against the surcharge, meaning it will only have to pay £850m extra to the EU next year.
Economist Simon Williams, who actually understands the principle of ‘fractions’, told us, “The point here is that the Chancellor has given away the rebate we were due to get next year.”
“So we’ve given up a £850m rebate from the EU, in order to have £850m taken off our surcharge bill. You don’t need a degree in economics to see how this isn’t the same as ‘halving your bill’.”
“Instead of us giving them £1.7bn, and then them giving us £850m, we’re just going to give them £850m and call it quits.”
“Technically what he’s done is given away the UK’s massive EU rebate – why is that not the headline?”
“And for some strange reason the most powerful accountant in the country seems to think he’s saved us a lot of money by doing that?”
Voters have reacted with surprise at the Chancellor’s claims, insisting it throws into doubt the very concept of ‘half’.
As one voter explained, “See this cake in front of me? It’s a cake worth £1.7bn, and I’m going to give it all to you. And then, you’re going to give me half of it back. OK?”
“So we’re going to end up with half the cake each. Get it?”
“But now, instead of that, I’m actually only going to give you half of the cake, and keep the other half now, so you don’t have to give it back to me later. Clear?”
“We’ve both still ended up with exactly the same amount of cake we ever going to get, except I can now claim, straight-faced in front of millions of voters that I’ve saved half a cake. Get it?”
“No, I don’t know why he thinks he’s saved half a cake either.”