Still inexplicably given a regular slot by broadcaster LBC to spout his inimitable combination of hatred, dishonesty and other sundry bigotry, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has once again been putting the boot into all those ghastly foreigners, whipping up prejudice on the flimsiest of pretexts. Last night’s offering in this genre was a claim about NHS “health tourism”.
Squeaky freeloading finger up the bum time
“He's said it once and he'll say it again, Nigel Farage says the NHS can be helped by cracking down on health tourism” tells the blurb, before quoting The Great Man asserting “We touched earlier on foreign nationals being treated in the NHS. It's an issue that I've raised in the past and been screamed at for daring to talk about it … But £2 billion a year is the cost of health tourism in this country … You may say that's a small part of the overall health budget, but hey, it's still £2 billion”. The inference is clear.
Farage is suggesting - probably wrongly, but let’s stick with him here - that the £2 billion is an amount that can be saved and spent elsewhere, either in the NHS or by some other public service. That’s very noble of him. So I’m sure that Mr Thirsty would be equally hot on a group of just 24 people spraying public money up the wall.
Who might I have in mind? Simples. Nigel Farage is an MEP. His constructive contribution to the European Parliament is not unadjacent to zero. Yet he draws a salary, and expenses, and, whisper it quietly, so do all the other UKIP MEPs - and those who may no longer be UKIP MEPs, but were elected under that party’s banner. All of these less than totally august beings also draw attendance allowances.
An MEP’s annual salary translates at present into a Sterling amount of around £85,000. Added to this is a flat-rate monthly allowance of €4,299 for office costs. On top of that is the daily subsistence allowance of €304. MEPs can also claim up to 24 return trips a year from their home countries. And then there is the reimbursement of travel costs for official duties in Brussels and Strasbourg. Plus a €4,243 official travel allowance for official trips to other destinations. Those allowances easily double the MEP’s base salary cost.
So we can safely assume that each UKIP MEP costs us - yes, we the taxpayers stump up for Mr Thirsty to go to Brussels and do Sweet Jack - at least £170,000 a year. And there are 24 Kippers (or former Kippers) in the European Parliament. Do the math, as they say: the cost of UKIP Financial Health Tourism exceeds £4 million a year.
Much of what is claimed to be “health tourism” is the unavoidable cost of people from outside the UK - and, indeed, outside the EU - falling ill while here. On the other hand, absolutely none of what We The People have to pay to keep Nigel Farage and his unproductive pals in the style to which they have become accustomed is unavoidable - his is a deliberate and sustained act of wilful and gratuitous freeloading.
Nigel Farage wants to crack down on public sector waste? Good. He and his fellow UKIP MEPs can make a real contribution to the cause by not sponging off the taxpayer.
After all, I’m sure the NHS could use another £4 million a year. Cheers Nige!