I thank my hon. Friend for his recent Westminster Hall debate, when this issue was discussed. As he pointed out, a Conservative Government successfully secured the rebate in 1984, which was then introduced in 1985. Compiling an aggregate figure in real terms is a complex matter. The Government have not published such a figure, but I know that he has and estimated it to be well over £100 billion. Details of the most recent UK rebates are published in the document entitled “European Union Finances”. The latest edition was published in February and reported that the UK received a rebate of £3.9 billion from the EU in 2016.
The massive £117 billion total rebate since Margaret Thatcher negotiated it in 1984 is testament to her resolution and determination in getting the best deal for Britain and refusing to take no for an answer. Will my hon. Friend agree to emulate her negotiating style and swing the metaphorical handbag until we get the deal Britain needs?
I assure my hon. Friend that, as befits the tough reputation of both our Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, we will be robust in defending the UK’s national interest throughout this negotiating process. As the Prime Minister set out in her Lancaster House speech on 17 January, the days of Britain making vast contributions to the European Union every year will end. A strong, stable Government led by our right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) will be best placed to secure the best deal for the British taxpayer. Just as our first lady Prime Minister secured the rebate and value for the British taxpayer, I am sure our second will fight Britain’s corner throughout the negotiations.