Earlier this month Get Britain Out exposed how the European Parliament was reversing the European Union budget cuts David Cameron had achieved last year. Adding insult to injury the Eurocrats are now demanding Britain contributes an outrageous extra £1.7 billion (€2 billion) to the EU budget, on top of Britain’s existing annual net contribution of £8.6 billion. And to add insult to injury, they are demanding payment by 1st December – without even providing us with a breakdown of their calculations. Just think how much better Britain could spend our money than adding to EU coffers!
Apparently Britain’s economy has been so successful for the past decade, the Brussels bureaucrats think it is only fair we share our success with the rest of Europe. In other words the sacrifices the Great British Public have been forced to make in the last few years of austerity will come to nought. Our hard work in trying to balance the books has only led to the money saved now being squandered on the basket-case economies of Europe.
It is true another eight countries are also being forced to grant more money to Brussels. But if these other eight payments are all added together, they total €1,152 billion – just over half Britain’s payment demand. What little of Thatcher’s rebate the European Commission did not win back under in the premiership of Europhile Tony Blair, they are now trying to claw back through the minefield of European budget regulations.
So what is ‘Cast-Iron’ Dave going to do about it? He has proclaimed he will not pay the bill and if people think he will “they have another thing coming”. This is all very impressive rhetoric of course. A cynic would link Cameron’s stance to the upcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood where UKIP are expected to win their second MP. Either way the fact remains, unless Cameron can secure the support of other European leaders, we must legally pay the £1.7 billion.
Unfortunately, Cameron will not have the allies he needs to get out of footing this enormous bill. Of the other eight countries being forced to pay more, five of these are paying under €50 million. These countries will inevitably grit their teeth and support the initiative in order to establish their credentials as “good Europeans”. This leaves only Greece, Italy and the Netherlands as staunch allies.
Currently the Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) system in the Council allows a group of member states to block legislation if they have 26% of the votes. Between them, Britain, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands have 83 of the 90 votes they need to block this demand by the Commission. This means if they could persuade a few other countries, it is possible they could form a blocking minority under current rules.
However, from the 1st November, a new system of QMV comes into effect which requires 35% of votes to block legislation. Even with all the other eight countries being forced to contribute supporting her, Britain would only be able to get 32% of the votes needed to prevent paying the £1.7 billion.
It is astonishing Cameron and his government were not aware of this sooner. With his incompetence over Europe, Cameron has allowed Britain to be backed into a corner. Clearly he is neither interested nor capable of delivering any substantial reform of our relationship with the EU. He is now attempting to demonstrate to the Great British Public he will take control of this situation. Everybody has to abide by rules, and this is one more set of rules and demands Britain does not want or need.
As Dan Hannan MEP has pointed out, if Britain left the EU tomorrow, with no free trade agreement arranged, the maximum total cost in tariffs we would have to pay is the same as the £1.7 billion now being demanded. However, according to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, there is a legal obligation for the EU to negotiate trade deals with us, so this amount would never be payable. As such, it is obvious the only way to protect our economy is to vote to Get Britain Out of the EU when our In / Out referendum finally comes.