Can’t Pay: Won’t Pay

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Is David Cameron making a fool of himself? He reacted to Brussels’ sudden demand for £1.7 billion (yes, that’s Billion with a “B”, not million with an “M”) with apoplectic outrage.  It was wrong.  It was unacceptable.  He absolutely refused to pay by December 1st (the date the money is said to be due).  He said it several times.  Each time: “I refuse to pay on December 1st“.  He repeated this rather curious qualification yesterday in the House of Commons.

His response begs the question “So what about December 2nd?”.  The problem is paying the money at all, not whether we pay today or tomorrow.

In a sense, he has only himself to blame.  I understand that negotiations on a new system of assessing member-states’ GDPs were under way at the end of the last Labour administration in 2010 – but were signed off after the General Election, by George Osborne as the new Chancellor.  So from Brussels’ point of view, everything is in order.  The new assessment method is properly agreed, and if that increases the UK’s liability, so be it.  Surely those pesky Anglo-Saxons should be gratified to find they’ve been doing even better than they thought?

From a UK perspective, however, it looks like daylight robbery.  And it is.  We are already paying a net £10 billion a year for the dubious privilege of membership of the EU, and that figure is rapidly increasing.  Yet EU membership arguably offers no net benefits to the UK.  What about trade, you ask?  Well the three largest external exporters into the EU are China, Russia and the USA.  Obviously none of these is an EU member-state, and currently none has any special trade agreement with the EU (though the Transatlantic Trade Agreement is under negotiation).  If they can export to the EU so successfully, how can it be argued that the UK could not?

Then again, the UK is both the EU’s largest customer (EU less UK, that is), and the EU’s largest net customer.  They just can’t afford to restrict trade with the UK, whether we’re in the EU or not.

Now, however, we read that Cameron is softening his attitude, and getting ready to pay up.  We in UKIP always said he would.  The surprise is that he’s started to climb down even before the Rochester by-election on November 20th.  And the reason for the change of heart?  According to the Daily Mail Brussels has said that if the UK fails to pay, then the British rebate will be under threat.

This is surely the most incompetent threat in the whole sordid history of blackmail (for blackmail it certainly is).  The fact is that rebate or not, the UK remains a net contributor (as well as a net customer) of the EU.  So there can be no meaningful threat that Brussels will withhold money from us.  But there is a powerful and credible threat (if Cameron had the back-bone to use it) that we could withhold money from them.

In terms of budget contributions, and in terms of trade, Britain matters far more to Brussels than Brussels matters to Britain.  It’s time to start showing a little self-confidence, and exercising a little clout.

One good thing at least arises from this sorry mess.  Finally Cameron’s confidence that he can succeed in renegotiating our EU membership has taken a knock.  Maybe he’s starting to engage with reality at last.

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17 Responses to Can’t Pay: Won’t Pay

  1. Maureen Gannon says:

    There is such an obvious answer Roger first remind the unelected body they are the servants of the countries in the EU second and to me the obvious tell these unelected when they have had the books audited and the people can judge them as a body whether they are competant to hold the powers they have ,then we will if justified as members of this fraudulent club pay any dues owed.

  2. Sally McNamara says:

    Andrew Neil reported that Osborne agreed to the new calculation rules in 2013 at a meeting of EU chancellors.

    Either way, this is a moment – how many nurses, doctors or hospitals would £1.7bn buy. Ukip should paper social media (which is quite cheap) with info graphics on what £1.7bn would buy – ON TOP OF WHAT WE PAY ALREADY.

    This is a titanic moment for Cameron. I fail to see how he wins on this. Junker has found a way of getting him own back.

    In fact, all the wins Cameron seems to claim fall apart…

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Yep…and it’ll be dealt out to France and Germany in the main. One country that tried to cripple us and the other crippling itself now. Even the knackered southern states have to cough up?

    Borrowing money to give to some club….has to end soon I think.

    Anymore disasters heading our way apart from a sharp winter perhaps?

    Wait for it…..

  4. Jane Davies says:

    Cameron’s reaction to this is aimed at the voters, the stamping of his little foot to show that he is really really cross about this and he is really on our side, don’t you know?
    But…….although he doesn’t want to cough up taxpayers dosh ( so say’s he) he will because they have him over a barrel and blackmail will always work when Brussels owns all the carrots. Also Junker is giving him a smart smack in the back pocket for not voting for him!
    Osborne trots out the excuse that the country is going through austerity but this demand from Brussels gives credence that this is a lie that is wheeled out when the pensioners complain about the pittance of a state pension and the disabled are told to get a job as the country can no longer afford to pay them benefits. Me thinks Cameron protests too much!

    But we are not fooled……..

  5. George Morley says:

    Have you seen this about the E U and Edward Traitor Heath :
    http://t.co/acjBxxk6Vp
    Says a lot for him and others.

  6. Many of us knew that he was lying in his back teeth about the benefits of the common market, but we were shouted down by vested (invested?) interests. I despised Heath for what our young family had to go through because of his “reign”, our reasonably affordable 6% mortgage became 16-17% in the end and just broke us in spite of both of us working and our children having clothes for Christmas!

  7. bumper says:

    I hope there is a similar story every week up to the GE.
    Cameron should tell the EU that forget the rebate, the treasury will calculate the net amount and send that. If they argue we should send nothing.
    A great recruiting ploy for UKIP.

    • Jane Davies says:

      Yes I thought the timing was perfect for UKIP, it maybe will just tip the undecided about leaving the EU over the edge. As Roger pointed out we are talking BILLIONS here not small change down the back of the sofa!

  8. Barry Davies says:

    Cameron will stamp his foot in public whilst telling his governors in brussels of course he’ll pay never mind the underfunded nhs perhaps a few more deaths won’t get noticed.

  9. Anne says:

    There is a ‘Black Country’ saying for all of this that is going on at present, but as a rather Genteel elderly young Lady, sadly I cannot write or repeat it here!

    • Jane Davies says:

      Come on Anne…..I’m dying to know!

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      When Chas and Dave did this on TOTP they were not allowed to say/sing what followed “Gertcha ……..” which was ” cahson”. So for us saaf London peasants the sting of that statement by our parents etc was much diminished…the BBC again. For those of us without a plum in the mouth it was “get out of here you cow son”. No impact compared to gertcha cahson. I often heard it leveled at anyone in authority (1950’s) and is still valid I think.

  10. George Morley says:

    Yes Jane , We are all adult……… and I will close one eye…….it may improve.my education !

  11. Francis says:

    Well said Roger.

  12. What is the benefit to D.C. if this payment-of OUR money- is made, or drawback if not made?

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