How much does the EU cost in the South?

EU flag Image copyright Getty Images

During this referendum campaign you will hear many claims of how much the EU costs, and how much benefit we derive.

Some will be in Euros, some in Sterling, some will be real-terms adjusted for inflation, others will be back-of-the fag packet guesstimates.

And all these claims will be misleading.

Even if you can you get your head around what "X squillion Euros" is worth when it's spread across the 503 million inhabitants of 4 million square kms of land even Jean-Claude Juncker would struggle to get a perspective that can properly appreciate all the costs and benefits to each of the 28 countries from any given act of Brussels.

So we will have to vote on our gut feeling.

In the south of England we are closer to the continent than the rest of the UK. It is easier for us to cross the channel, and yet that seems to give us a more Euro-sceptic gut.

At the last election we elected more UKIP MEPs than any other party, including their leader Nigel Farage, with 32% of the vote, Conservatives came second with 31% and Labour third on 15%.

Image copyright Lib Dems
Image caption Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said there are many "myths" about the EU

The EU spends less of its development money on us than other parts of the UK. These blue flags announcing the arrival of a Euro-grant are more commonplace in Burnley than Basingstoke.

As one of the most prosperous parts of the UK, are we more confident about any economic impact of leaving the EU? Are we more worried about issues like immigration with Calais on our doorstep?

Or with London up the road should we worry that the City stands to lose heavily if Paris or Berlin hijack its financial position?

The last remaining Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder is elected by south-east England voters. She publishes a list of top 10 "myths" about the EU and her number one is Brussels bureaucrats impose laws upon us and we have no say in it.

This she says is not true because the commission has no powers to impose law on EU countries, it can only propose legislation.

And yet others would point to David Cameron's desperate struggle to gain compromises from the other states.

Sceptics would argue his pleading and the sheer hard work he's had to put in to gain concessions show clearly how much power has been lost.

Image copyright @DanHannanMEP
Image caption Conservative MEP Dan Hannan believes the public may decide to get off the EU bus

It may prove just as difficult for pollsters to predict the gut feeling to work who wins or loses.

So how about this analysis: It's going to be Bank versus Bus.

How ever much we grumble about our bank it's true the bother involved puts many of us off the idea of change. So the bank theory goes, in the end we won't vote to leave the EU.

Conservative MEP Dan Hannan offers the bus theory instead. If you find yourself on the wrong bus, heading away from where you want to go, you should get off at the first available stop.

Bank or Bus. It's got to be better than counting those Euro grants.