27 November 2017
Theresa May reportedly plans to offer about £40 billion of our money in order to bring the European Union to the table to discuss whether it wishes to trade freely with Britain after we leave in 2019. I listened to a German MEP last week describe these negotiations as “a French commissioner insulting an entire nation”, and heard a British MP call the EU’s obsession with money “disreputable”. The result is not humiliating for us, but for them. If I were Mrs May, this (tongue-in-cheek) is the letter I would write to accompany the offer.
Dear Angela, Emmanuel and others (cc Donald, Jean-Claude, Michel),
I enclose a cheque for £40 billion as agreed. However, you will notice that it is post-dated March 30, 2019, and that it will bounce without a free-trade agreement between us, as I mentioned on the telephone. We are delighted to be in a position to be so unilaterally generous, and sorry that you find yourselves in such dire need of our help.
As you will recall, under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union is a legal “person” responsible for its own financial commitments, so we legally owe you not a penny after the current budget ends in 2020, a fact confirmed by a House of Lords committee. You may remember that your opening request for approximately €100 billion was taken apart line-by-line in a three-hour presentation at one of the bilateral meetings by one of our better civil servants.
To read Matt Ridley’s piece for The Times in full, click here.