David Cameron and George Osborne are "trying to take the British people for fools" by claiming to have "halved" Britain's £1.7 billion EU bill, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has said.
"Ministers have failed to get a better deal for the British taxpayer," Balls said after the deal was announced, adding that "not a single penny has been saved for the taxpayer" by the agreement.
While George Osborne said the Treasury would only have to pay £850 million up front, ITV News Europe Editor James Mates since reported that the other half of the bill will be paid by a proposed rebate that Britain may have been due to receive in 2016.
By counting the rebate Britain was due anyway they are desperately trying to claim that the backdated bill for £1.7 billion has somehow been halved.
But nobody will fall for this smoke and mirrors. The rebate was never in doubt and in fact was confirmed by the EU Budget Commissioner last month.
An EU official has poured scorn on the Chancellor's claim to have "halved" the UK's budget surcharge.
David Cameron's allies are offering little support in his battle against a £1.7 billion bill and freedom of movement around the EU.
Change the access to benefits - as Germany is doing - they say, but don't even think of touching free movement.