A Conservative MP who incorrectly stated Britain did not get any money from the United States after the Second World War has apologised for “any offence” caused by his claim.
Daniel Kawczynski was criticised for wrongly saying in a message on his Twitter account that Britain did not benefit from the Marshall Plan in 1948.
This was a scheme in which the US gave more than $12bn (worth $100bn, or £76bn, in today’s money) to countries in Western Europe to help them rebuild in the aftermath of the conflict.
Britain received the largest proportion of the fund, getting about a quarter of the money, and made its last repayment in 2006.
But Mr Kawczynski, a prominent Brexiteer, recently tweeted: “Britain helped to liberate half of Europe. She mortgaged herself up to eye balls in process.
“No Marshall Plan for us only for Germany. We gave up war reparations in 1990.
“We put £370 billion into EU since we joined. Watch the way ungrateful EU treats us now. We will remember.”
When asked about this tweet during an appearance on Sky News on Tuesday, Mr Kawczynski said he had “got into a lot of trouble over that”.
The Shrewsbury MP added: “What I would say is – and I think that people have said – really, it’s very difficult for MPs to get everything across in the limited number of characters.
“What I was trying to say is I believe the United Kingdom did not benefit as much as other countries because of the huge loans we had to take out during the Second World War, which we only finished paying off in 2007.
“If I have caused any offence with that tweet I apologise.”
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When pushed on whether he agreed his tweet – which has not been deleted – was factually wrong, Mr Kawczynski acknowledged “Britain did receive money under the Marshall Plan”.
He added: “But the huge loans that she took and the massive task that she took on by herself to liberate half of Europe cost her dearly and she’s been paying those loans right up until 10 years ago.”
Mr Kawczynski initially refused to apologise or correct his statement on 2 February, instead pulling up his critics for misspelling his surname.
He also hung up during a telephone radio interview when confronted about the tweet.