£1.7 bn for the Brussels Begging Bowl
It is an outrage that Brussels has ambushed the British Prime Minister with an unexpected demand for an extra £1.7 billion — based on their re-assessment of Britain’s economic growth. And David Cameron is not a man to trust on the issue. He should just say NO.
(You can’t trust the Tories in Brussels either. Last week on the vote to approve the new European Commission, they split three ways — for, against and abstain. Needless to say, UKIP MEPs all voted against).
In this country we don’t allow HMRC to come back retrospectively and change the rules, and demand money from previous years. We can’t accept Brussels doing that either.
What this amounts to is a deliberate policy of punishing success (the UK), and rewarding failure. Apparently France will receive nearly £800m. But even in its own terms, this EU initiative isn’t working. It’s taking money from Greece, which is nearly bust, and giving it to Germany, which was doing relatively well until recently.
Of course we in UKIP don’t want to be in the EU’s inward-looking, protectionist club in the first place. We don’t want to be giving Brussels £10 billion net a year to start with, never mind the extra £1.7 billion. We don’t want British industry burdened by the dead hand of Brussels regulation, estimated by some to be ten times the direct budget contributions. We want Britain to be free to make its own trade deals with the world. We want to focus on growing markets in the Americas and Asia, not on a declining Europe.
So we are adamantly opposed to this extra impost, at a time when real wages in the UK are stagnant and public services are desperate for funds.
The timing of the demand, just weeks ahead of the Rochester by-election where UKIP is leading the Tories in opinion polls, has suggested to some that there might be dirty work at the crossroads. One suggestion: maybe Brussels thinks (wrongly in our view) that a success for UKIP will lead to a Labour Prime Minister, who would not agree to an EU referendum. So was the timing deliberately designed to help UKIP in Rochester?
Or maybe they want to help Cameron and block UKIP. Will they climb down a couple of days before polling day, so that Cameron can come back from Brussels waving a piece of paper and declaring “Peace in our Time”? We’ll see. Cameron insists he won’t pay on December 1st. But December 2nd? One thing’s for sure: he won’t pay before the Rochester by-election on November 20th!