At first listen, the tone and words used by Donald Tusk, European Council President, seem helpful and conciliatory but listen again. The EU response to Britain’s triggering of Article 50 is a poisoned chalice.
There are three main strands to this response.
Firstly, the EU seeks a ‘divorce settlement’. The figure that has been bandied about is £50-60 Billion. The EU, which is the shorthand phrase I shall use for Germany, says that they want this resolved before moving on to any deal on the future relationship between the EU and a freed Britain. In a ‘conciliatory’ frame of mind, they say that they only want to see progress on this matter – so the general terms of reference based on what the UK should pay – rather than an actual number.
This though is a trap. ‘Progress’ will not be made on anything that the UK proposes which takes account of prior contributions, for example.
In the past 40+ years, the UK has contributed a net £500 Billion plus to the EU. That is a net number – money that has flowed from Britain out to the EU. That is money that has been ‘invested’ in farm support payments to French, Italian and Greek farmers but also much investment has been made into roads and buildings across the EU. These represent the ‘assets’ of the EU and Britain’s contribution to these needs to be recognised. Since the talk is of a ‘divorce settlement’ think of these as the main home and second homes that the British spouse has contributed to. In a divorce the value of these would be considered. The EU only wants to consider their own future expenditure and Britain’s contribution to that. So, ascribing no value to the past contributions.
So, in the eyes of the EU, the more than €24 Billion that Britain invested in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is ignored. (Oh, and that is not part of my earlier quoted £500 Billion number!). Neither is the €39 Billion invested in the European Investment Bank (EIB). Nor are the amounts invested in the EU offices that have spread around the globe.
Second part of the response is the Spanish sop. Essentially, the EU is seeking to make a condition of a deal, that Spain should have a say regarding Gibraltar. The same Gibraltar that voted 99% to 1% to want to remain a British Overseas Territory, in a recent referendum. Spain has long coveted Gibraltar, which fell under British rule back in 1713.
I think of this part of the response a ‘false flag’ Something to get us to focus on this and become highly irate so that eventually, when the EU give in on this, it can be dressed-up as a major concession. Simply put, the EU, Spain and the UK know that this isn’t even on the table. It is though an irritant and one that the EU know will be seen as so.
The third part of the response is the most critical. The EU seeks to control Britain’s post-Brexit taxation and regulation policies. The EU is a typical bureaucratic entity. They look for uniformity so that no country stands out and can attract investment or set policies that are appropriate for itself.
Britain already has a pro-enterprise approach to Corporate taxation and, if it can silence its internal socialist envy-peddlers, will have a personal income tax policy that promotes individual rather than State growth.
The EU know that Britain will continue down this pathway. They are seeking, by the dangerous third component to their response, to stifle this. Should they succeed, then parts of the Brexit Referendum Project Fear will be fulfilled.
What kind of country, other than a client state, (which is increasingly how we must see the relationship between Germany and the other EU ‘nations’) cannot control its own levels of taxation and regulations? What would be the point of Brexit if we are controlled by Brussels (Berlin on the Zenne)?
So! The response from the UK Government needs to be as follows:
Dear President Tusk,
We have heard of your proposals regarding our invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
In order to facilitate discussions, I advise, on behalf of the UK Government, that we will not accept any discussions about or inclusion of the status of Gibraltar in these discussions and most specifically will not allow any talks of a bilateral nature between Spain and the UK, to be a part of such discussions.
In a similar vein, the UK Government will not allow the EU to have any say or competency over Britain’s taxation or regulatory regimes once we exit the EU.
Finally, as a gesture of goodwill, the UK will not pursue a refund of its share of contributions made to the EU, during the course of its membership. Linked to this is an understanding that the UK will make no further contributions to the EU, from the day that the UK’s membership of the EU, actually ceases.
On behalf of the UK Government
I have no doubt that such a letter would be found, by the EU-favouring Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to be lacking in diplomatic finesse. That is intentional. A very clear message needs to be sent. Very clear. When Theresa May said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ this wasn’t rhetoric. She was speaking on behalf of the UK. We do not expect to spend two years discussing issues on which we simply will never concede. The EU need to understand that, immediately. The gloves need to come off. Diplomatic niceties are not what is needed, plain talking and backbone are.
We would look for a partnership with the EU but a partnership of equals. If that is what the EU wants then they should start seriously negotiating and they should cease with their delaying tactics which they know will not be conceded.
Oh and yes, regarding the thinly veiled threat concerning security cooperation. The EU and its apologists within the UK, need to understand that Britain doesn’t do anything for free and the contribution to Europol and security matters, from the UK is far superior to that from other member states. Theresa May was absolutely right to put this on the table.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: http://thismakesmemadyoutoo.blogspot.com/2017/04/uks-art-50-response-to-eu.html