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Let’s Talk Customs Union!

by John Brian Shannon

In the European Union, it’s all about the money.

For if it isn’t the EU holding-up the UK for £40 billion to leave the EU, it’s the European Union wanting billions for a Customs Union deal that will benefit continental Europe moreso than it will benefit the United Kingdom.

  • To be fair, there’s no word yet if there’s an up-front-payment component associated with the rumoured Customs Union deal.
  • Let’s not forget that the £40 billion number was arranged to pay an estimated £9.15 billion in British expat pension and other legitimate liabilities that the UK will rightly owe to the EU over the next 50-years.
  • Nobody in the UK disputes the £9.15 billion number (although everyone agrees it’s an approximate number as expat lifespans rise and other legitimate costs could increase in the future) but some wonder how £9.15 billion became £40 billion.

As much as UK citizens are tired of paying a (net) £8.6 billion annually to feed the EU’s budget, it looks like there will be a cost for a Customs Union deal with the EU. Still, few Britons would begrudge paying reasonable amounts (like Norway does) to be in a Customs Union (but not in a Political Union) with the EU.

Just make sure it costs less than £8.6 billion annually, Ms. Prime Minister…


For the record, let’s see how much the UK was projected to contribute to the EU budget

UK contribution to EU budget

This statistic presents the net contributions that the UK is predicted to make to the EU budget from 2016 to 2022. The peak of contributions is expected to be in 2019/20 at net 12.2 billion British pounds. Find more statistics at Statista.com

If you’re handy with a calculator, you’ll see that’s a net contribution of £71.6 billion over a span of 7-years and you’ll also note that the average net contribution will rise to £11.1 billion annually when averaged over the next 5-years. The £8.6 billion figure that we often hear came about from the average net contribution over the past 5-years.

Wow, that’s a lot of net contributing. Remember, the term “net” means you’re paying more in than you get back.


Time for the EU to Lower Their Spending or (better) Turn EU27 Nations into Net Contributors

Some blocs have ‘champagne taste and wildly varying contributions from member nations’ and the EU is surely that.

Once the UK leaves the union it will be primarily Germany propping-up the bloc as most of the EU27 are net ‘takers’ from the EU budget — and the few net ‘contributors’ are small countries that couldn’t float the EU budget no matter how hard they would try.

Sweden has a great economy for example, but with a population of 9-million people how could they afford to pay for the programme spending of 450 million EU citizens? To cover the EU budget you need two economic near-superpowers. Italy is still putting itself back together after the last recession and France’s economy is a break-even proposition — although the French live very good lives, and good for them. No wonder Germany enjoyed splitting the EU’s bills with the UK since 1993, but especially since 1998. Ultimately however, Germany got plenty of say in EU affairs while the UK was (basically) allowed to comment on EU affairs. But the UK knew that going in, so no complaining!

Let’s see how committed Germany remains to the EU project 5 or 10-years on when it is paying into the EU budget without Britain’s help. German taxpayers and German business might force the country’s politicians to pull out of the EU and amp-up the stature of the EuroZone into a full political and economic bloc. That might be a smart move for EuroZone countries, but it could result in disaster for some non-EuroZone nations.

In the meantime, let’s hope the EU manages to tame its spendthrift ways or that it finds ways to turn ‘taker’ member nations into ‘contributor’ member nations before the EU loses one of its best annual contributors.

That would also have the benefit of helping the keep the continent’s number one economy (Germany) flying high — which is uber-important because one of the things Germany’s robust economy is financing via their contributions to the EU budget is continued peace and prosperity in Europe. And judged by that standard over the past 70-years both Britain and Germany deserve a truckload of Nobel Peace Prizes. Jolly good, gute Freunde!

Until the Brexit implementation period ends in a little over 2-years, the UK must continue paying a net £11.5 billion annually (2019-2021) and it will still need to pay the expected £9.15 billion in expected future liabilities (which for some as yet unexplained reason was trotted-out as £40 billion) and is payable up-front, and it looks like it must also pay to gain or be in a Customs Union agreement with the EU.

As Theresa May has said many times, ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ which may yet prove to be among the wisest words a British Prime Minister ever spoke.

Interesting times, indeed.

UK to EU: The Ball is in Your Court

by John Brian Shannon

Theresa May naively assumed that if she could just come up with the ‘right’ Brexit deal the EU would sign it and life would be good for citizens on both sides of the English Channel forever, and ever, and ever… (queue the dreamy music now)

Which sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Theresa May crisscrosses Europe for two years doing political hand stands for the EU elite, comes up with a Brexit plan that works well for both sides, the good people of the UK and the EU return to their normal happy lives and the only difference is a border between the UK and the EU.

Fluffy white kittens and playful sparrows as far as the eye can see! Can you hear Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons wafting across the lavender fields towards you?

(Not me. After the EU’s failure at Salzburg, I hear music to accompany Milton’s Paradise Lost. Even the most tone-deaf can tell the difference between those tunes)

But, such was not to be. ‘Theresa May the Naive’ didn’t realize the EU never intended to get a deal. Their ‘deal’ was to break the will of Theresa May and break the indomitable spirit of the British people who dared vote against their elitist, corporatist club.

And God love Theresa May for thinking it was all about ‘getting the right deal’ instead of realizing that it was all about having to forfeit Northern Ireland, £40 billion in taxpayer cash, and every subsequent British Prime Minister kneeling before the EU politburo as part of their penance until more suitable punishment can be arranged. How medieval…


Time to Give Up on Negotiations, Theresa?

Don’t tempt her…

After using up considerable political capital (in order to cater to EU leaders) on the path towards getting a Brexit deal that works for both sides, and getting practically nowhere, Theresa May must now find herself at the crossroads — wondering what to do next.

And the simple answer is; Nothing.

Do nothing, Theresa, because no matter what you offer it won’t be good enough!

Not only are the EU in denial that the UK is leaving, they want to punish the UK and its people for leaving the union and nothing you can do will save them from their grief.

At this point, the only play left in the big diplomatic book is to stop. doing. anything. and. wait.

Not through any fault of yours — you’ve served them your best plan and it wasn’t good enough. But no matter what you served it wouldn’t have satisfied them.

The way you must play it now is to withdraw yourself from the constant ‘coming up with plans’ modality to arrange a suitable Brexit for both sides — because they have no interest in that. Why waste your time and remaining political capital?

No more traipsing around Europe trying to work with EU leaders, no more coming up with policy alternatives, no more allowing yourself to be set-up for failure!

It may take years for their hurt feelings dissipate, but as the British Prime Minister you must do what’s necessary for the UK, and in the absence of a deal with the EU, you must begin planning for a Hard Brexit on January 1, 2019.

Why January 1, 2019? Because there’s almost zero chance at a reasonable Brexit deal with the EU between now and March 29, 2019.

And every month that passes, the UK will be losing billions of pounds sterling (not only paying £8.6 billion more per year into the EU than the UK gets back, but in lost trade that could be earning the UK billions) in the meantime.

It’s not inconceivable the UK would be losing anywhere from £1 billion to £10 billion per month in lost trade each month it waits for the EU to agree a deal before March 29, 2019.

And that isn’t what responsible UK Prime Ministers do. Is it?

Responsible Prime Ministers try their best to arrange a reasonable deal and when that doesn’t work — it’s time to get back to running the country and getting out of a bad deal that’s costing the UK billions of pounds per month. ASAP.

“You’re welcome to visit me in London to discuss Brexit, but otherwise I’m busy.”

EU, the ball is in your court.

Salzburg: A Clearly-Laid Ambush for Theresa May

by John Brian Shannon

EU leaders had been heard praising Theresa May’s Chequers plan in recent days and no doubt, she was in fine spirits as she flew to meet EU leaders in Salzburg Austria… only to find that her well-intentioned plan was unexpectedly ripped to shreds by some of those attending.

For some observers this came as a complete surprise, but for others it seemed an obvious psychological trap for Ms. May that would undermine her credibility on the world stage and work to strengthen her rapacious cohorts in the UK House of Commons who (the EU hopes) would become more united in overthrowing her than working for the UK.


Here’s what The Times of London is saying:

“For the embattled UK government, the punishment beating meted out by the EU this week will be deeply dispiriting. Salzburg was supposed to be a moment of breakthrough, or at least progress, with the Brexit talks unlocked by Chequers. Instead, the prime minister faces the daunting task of having to reset her Brexit policy to counter an intransigent EU.”Absurd Salzburg show proves we’re right to go

Here’s what Britons should be saying:

“Having been snookered into joining the EU in 1993 without a vote on membership, we’ve since voted to Leave (the first time we were allowed to vote on the matter) and as we’ve overpaid (subsidized) the EU budget since 1993 more than any EU country except Germany, would you mind treating us *about as well* as you treat any other significant market for your goods?”


Theresa May Keeps Jumping & the EU Says “Not High Enough”

Apparently, Theresa May jumping into the stratosphere every time the EU beckons isn’t good enough for the EU27 leaders.

The Prime Minister must be out of breath by now, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down! Every two or three weeks she gets summoned before the EU Sanhedrin to explain why 17.4 million Britons decided to vote to Leave that august body — and why would she listen to British voters anyway?

Over the summer, it became something else when a number EU leaders believed they could browbeat Theresa May into delaying Brexit by telling her she should hold ‘another referendum to ensure that the British people are certain they want to Leave the illustrious EU.’

And now, it’s become something else again. It’s a game. They get Theresa May feeling hopeful that the EU has finally accepted her overly generous Chequers proposal… then they drop her off the edge of the world.

As far as negotiating tactics are concerned; Between enemies this is a perfectly legitimate machination. But for one EU country to employ it against a fellow EU country (albeit, one that’s soon to leave the EU) it is unseemly, at best. Lowbrow, at worst.

Were I Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, I would have said, “Get your stuff, we’re leaving” and flown her back to the UK myself if the pilots weren’t immediately available — without so much as informing the hotel front desk in Salzburg.


When people set you up to fail, they’re not your friends. So don’t be there.

A well-known quote: “Every day, we teach others how to treat us.” Therefore, if Theresa May continues to allow EU leaders to set her up for a fall and use tactics against her that are appropriate to use against the EU’s existential enemies only (certainly not to a fellow EU member and major contributor to the European project in the postwar era) without standing up for herself, she deserves everything she gets and I wouldn’t feel sorry for her in the least.

This *should be* the headline in today’s UK newspapers: “Theresa May shocks EU leaders by abruptly leaving Salzburg insults behind”

That’s the way you stand up for yourself. Whether I like or dislike Theresa May and her policies, we should expect EU leaders to treat the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and British voters with a high level of respect if they want to receive the same in return.

“Every day, we teach others how to treat us.” — Remember?

Whether they realize it, or not, the EU is teaching the Prime Minister that no matter how hard she tries to create a polite Brexit, they will arbitrarily disregard her well-intentioned plans, eventually causing her to give up on the EU as an institution where goodwill and diplomacy between nation states matter.


The United States is Looking Better Every Day!

Although President Donald Trump has firm convictions and definite plans for America, he’s a person who believes in polite diplomacy (whenever that is possible) and free trade when it works for the United States.

And on that note, America enjoys a trade surplus with the UK and has done so for as long as anyone can remember — which means the UK won’t be getting hit with U.S. tariffs anytime soon as the trade balance is in America’s favour.

In a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, the EU may need to find other customers for the millions of cars they export to the UK every decade. Germany alone exports 770,000 vehicles to Britain annually.

If the UK, the United States, and Canada sign a zero tariff trade deal on March 30, 2019 Britons will have access to more products than they’ve ever seen in their lives. And the price of goods in the United States and Canada are downright reasonable when compared to EU goods which often seem overly expensive for no discernible reason.

India, Australia and New Zealand have already indicated they’ll sign trade agreements with the UK shortly thereafter.

Lift up your eyes Theresa May, better days are ahead!


Bonus Videos:

Theresa May: EU criticism of Chequers plan is a ‘negotiating tactic’


Theresa May demands respect from EU and says their behavior is ‘unacceptable’


Related Articles:

  • Motor vehicle trade between the UK and its main EU partners — ACEA
  • Everything you might want to know about the UK’s trade with the EU — FullFact.org
  • Deloitte study finds that the German car industry would be severely hit by a ‘no deal’ Brexit — OpenEurope.org

Related Articles Since Salzburg:

  • Jeremy Hunt: Don’t mistake politeness for weakness — BBC
  • Theresa May’s withering riposte to the EU was the speech of her life — Telegraph
  • Theresa May Brexit deal: Why has the EU rejected the Chequers plan? — Express
  • Arlene Foster applauds Theresa May for STANDING FIRM against disgraceful EU — Express
  • Theresa May speaks to the BBC in New York on September 25, 2018 — BBC