UK statistics body chides Boris Johnson over EU cost claim

Britain’s statistics regulator has accused Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of misleadingly claiming that leaving the European Union will give Britain an extra 350 million pounds ($475 million) a week to spend on health care.

The figure was emblazoned on buses used by the “Leave” campaign before last year’s Brexit referendum.

Johnson resurrected it in an article laying out his vision for Britain’s post-Brexit future. He said the UK will “take back control of roughly 350 million a week” when it leaves the EU, and it would be “a fine thing” if much of it went to the National Health Service.

UK Statistics Authority chief David Norgrove chided Johnson in a letter, saying it was a gross rather than net figure. It doesn’t take into account a substantial rebate Britain receives before the money is sent, or money the EU sends to Britain, which reduce the next figure to about half the cited 350 million pounds.

Norgrove called the figure “a gross misuse of official statistics.”

Johnson accused Norgrove of distorting his article, but the statistics authority said Monday that Norgrove stood by his opinion.

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