Northern Ireland

Brexit: DUP's Sammy Wilson claims British exit could mean an 'extra £540m' for NI budget

Sammy Wilson
Image caption The DUP's Sammy Wilson supports a a British exit, or a so-called Brexit, from the European Union but his party has yet to formally adopt a position ahead of a referendum

Former Stormont finance minister Sammy Wilson has said Northern Ireland could get "an additional £540m in its budget" if the UK leaves the European Union.

The Democratic Unionist Party MP backs a British exit, or a so-called Brexit.

He claimed the annual block grant would likely benefit from the UK saving on its financial contribution to Europe.

He said Northern Ireland would in theory be entitled to 3% (£540m) of the £18bn that the UK pays into Europe as a result of the Barnett Formula.

The formula is used by the Treasury to allocate public spending in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The DUP has yet to formally adopt a position ahead of a referendum on EU membership.

Mr Wilson accepts, however, that it will be for the government to decide how it uses any saving, should voters back withdrawal.

"If it wants to use it to help write off the deficit there will be no Barnett consequential," he said.

"It is a decision for them."

The UK pays more into the EU kitty than it gets back, but Northern Ireland has been a major beneficiary of that returned funding.

Northern Ireland's business community broadly favours the UK remaining in the EU.

Last year, research for the Northern Ireland Assembly said leaving the EU could cost the Northern Ireland economy almost £1bn a year.

It pointed to £2.4bn of EU funding which was received in the region between 2007 and 2013.