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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Brexit: Liars and Fantasists

The Remoaners puff up with indignation at the mention of the slogan on the Brexiteers' battle-bus, claiming how much could be returned to the UK budget if payments to the EU ceased to be made. This, the Remoaners declare, is the biggest 'lie' [among many others] within a fraudulent campaign by which a small majority of the electorate opted for the 'disaster' of Brexit.

Now, fantasists in Paris, Warsaw and Berlin are said to be trying to prove that the Brexiteers' figures are correct. Apparently, the Poles and the French - major beneficiaries - are demanding that Britain continues to be a net contributor to EU funds, and specifically to support payments for farmers, even after Britain has left the Union. The estimates for what they will demand as the exit price is 100 billion euros. This figure is somewhat inflated as a result of the decline of the pound against the euro since the vote was taken.

Germany has been the biggest net contributor to the EU since it was the Common Market, and that position will seem lonelier and less rational when Britain has gone. Insofar as Britons know about these things, it is generally believed that Margaret Thatcher threw a tantrum, and secured a rebate from the excess net contribution that the UK had made until that time. Having 'won' that point, she cheerily surrendered massive areas of sovereignty as the EEC became the EU. Britain carried on paying-in; just a bit less per year. Since then, the fact that Britain and Germany have been subbing the other member countries, especially those with traditional patterns of agrarian settlement, has largely been suppressed. While Germany has resisted any scheme to subsidise southern European eurozone countries since the single currency was reduced, in the cause of currency manipulation and to reduce the strain on the budgets of the less-honest countries within the euro system, it has allowed the inaugural subsidies for farmers [and other traditional communities] to continue. Britain has paid a reduced share of this tribute to continental conservatism.

In addition to claiming that Britain's contributions to the EU's assets were one-way one-off payments on which no return can be expected, EU countries are now claiming that it would be too unsettling for EU budgets if Britain's net contribution ceases when the UK leaves the Union. So Britain must carry on paying - for absolutely nothing to the advantage of Britons - up to the end of the current budgetary periods [at least]. I can imagine nothing that would strengthen the Brexiteers' case more than will such aggressive demands from the Union. If the pro-EU Financial Times is correct in its estimate of 100 billion euros as the exit bill, it will be the Remoaners who will be shown to be fantasists as the supposed 'lies' promulgated by the Brexit campaigners are shown to be close to the truth. The larger the sum turns out to be, the less likely it is to be paid.

The EU is demanding financial settlement before trade talks can begin. At the figure now stated, the UK can only refuse. Then what?

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