Independent euro MP Steven Woolfe said the UK doesn’t owe the bloc “anything” because many projects have already been paid for and that eurocrats are “truly worried about the black hole” looming for their budget.
He also pointed out that Britain, as the bloc’s second biggest net contributor, has funded much EU spending in recent years but that Brussels is saying we “don’t get any of that back”.
In a wide-ranging interview with express.co.uk, Mr Woolfe warned removing Britain’s injection of around £13 billion a year gross into the European economy every year could have a serious knock-on effect on jobs.
The qualified barrister said there would be a “multiplier effect” in terms of the continent’s economy linked to UK cash which could pose a “systemic threat” to the EU if lost.
Mr Woolfe, who quit Ukip and is now building up contacts across the political divide in the EU Parliament, compared Brussels’ financial demands to the realities of an actual divorce.
He said the EU’s position was similar to a married couple splitting up before they bought a house, but then one side of the relationship expecting the other to go through with the purchase anyway.
The MEP explained: “They are expecting us to continue to pay for the house we’re no longer buying or going to live in, the bills for everyone while will be living there, the mortgage and the extension that might not even be built.
“If they paid for the architects plans for the road we should pay that back, but frankly we shouldn’t then pay for the road to be build. They should decide themselves if they want to go ahead with that.”
He said: “My view is I don’t think we owe them anything. Firstly we’ve already contributed money to each of the budgets therefore most of that money will already have been allocated but not yet spent.
“Most of the projects can be paid out of the money we’ve already given to the EU but hasn’t been spent yet. I don’t think, if we went through it line by line, there would be anything that hasn’t already been built that we haven’t paid for.
“Secondly, I don’t believe that the EU is willing to give us any capital back for the investments we have already made or a return on the projects that haven’t yet been built.
“In no divorce or split in a business would any of those people not be allocated back to each of the partners, the shareholders would get distribution of the assets of that business, the house would have to be sold.”
Mr Woolfe cited the example of the southern Polish city of Katowice, where hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money have been used to build a new airport, motorway, museum and theatre.
He mockingly asked eurocrats: “If you’re saying it’s a divorce, when you divorce you split up the assets. Well how much of Katowice are we going to get back?”
The veteran eurosceptic also revealed how eurocrats are sweating over the bloc’s future budget without Britain, given the need to reach unanimity between 27 countries all defending their own interests.
EU budget chief Gunther Oettinger has said the bloc will be missing about £10 billion a year once the UK has left, suggesting that half the money should come from savings and the other half from increased contributions.
Mr Woolfe said: “They are truly worried about that black hole. It’s a huge political headache. They’ve got to sit back at the table and see who’s going to add the money into the pot and if not where are the cuts going to go.
“And if there’s one thing Brussels hates it’s cuts because they’ve got to get 27 leaders around the table and each of those countries are reliant on the jobs they have built up and the power and influence from EU funding. It involves a huge amount of negotiations.
“Who’s going to put the money in? Some of those countries can’t afford to increase their contributions. You’ve got 13 per cent of a budget that’s got to be redistributed somehow.
“It means cutting jobs in those countries or funding who have basically been promised money to keep the EU show on the road and nobody’s going to like seeing their budget cut.”