Letters

Theresa May’s Full Plate of Issues: November 2017

by John Brian Shannon

It’s always a busy time for a British Prime Minister, isn’t it? Poor Winston had WWII to deal with and faced some very tough weeks, several British PM’s had utterly sleepless weeks during the height of the Cold War, and Maggie endured a backsliding economy, the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands debacle, and destabilization in Zimbabwe — and sometimes all in the same week.

Theresa May on the other hand, has “only” Brexit to worry about — complete with an increasingly hostile EU Parliament, Donald Tusk demanding evermore unearned money ahead of any agreement with the EU, a Conservative Party that offers lukewarm support, Cabinet members either not communicating well or going off in various directions, and uncertainty in Zimbabwe an important Commonwealth partner.

Sheesh Theresa, anything else?


Where Do We Go Now?

There are only two outcomes here; Either Theresa May crumples under the strain of things imposed on her by others, or she tosses the lot of them aside and rises like the British lion with steely eyed determination, hunting down each challenge and owning it.

And that will determine the Theresa May premiership for future historians.

Frankly, she’s been too nice, too accommodating, too gentle and too PC, and these are wonderful attributes for normal folk but terrible liabilities for sitting PM’s.

Such niceties are detrimental to progress for Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings or Queens, Popes, and Generals and Admirals because at a certain point someone (anyone!) must stand up and make the tough decisions and be seen to be in charge by their own people and by the public.

And in Britain’s case it’s got to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Full stop.


Don’t Hold Back Theresa, Tell Us How You Really Feel!

When the day finally arrives that Theresa May unloads on everyone trying to keep her ‘down’ is the day she will finally rise above the problems that surround her — most of which aren’t her fault BTW — although by being too nice, too docile, too accommodating, she may have allowed them to continue longer than is healthy for her and her government.


Theresa May’s To-Do List, November 20 – 27

  1. Fire the most problematic Cabinet minister (whomever that is)
  2. Tell Donald Tusk to take a hike! (Yes he’s a very nice man, but he’s NOT working for Britain’s best interest, is he?) See you sometime after January 1st, Donald.
  3. Inform the EU Parliament that a WTO Brexit is now Britain’s default option (but if they want to work something out, sure, we’ll consider it)
  4. Call the CEO’s of VW, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Seimens, and other notable EU companies to ask if they still want to export to the UK. (Just a friendly question, not one word more, not one word less) That will get them phoning their EU parliamentarians to ensure free and fair trade with Britain continues after Brexit!
  5. Invite Nigel Farage and other well-known Brexiteers to 10 Downing St. for a working lunch. (Why would she do this? Think about it. All she ever hears is the tired Project Fear / Professional Remoaner party line. A PM needs to hear both sides of every issue, every week, in order to make the best decisions for the country)
  6. She needs to inform her Conservative Party that lukewarm support just won’t cut it any longer and that party fortunes are falling due to the aforesaid lukewarm support. It’s time for the party to throw their entire weight behind Ms. May as the next 16 months are chock-a-block full and leadership contests are quite out of the question if anything of value is to be accomplished in that small-ish timeframe.
  7. Theresa May, more than anyone should be calling for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe to replace the possibly deposed but ailing 93-year old Robert Mugabe and offering as many UK and Commonwealth election observers as Zimbabwe requests. And she should dangle an amount equivalent to 1/10th the annual UK foreign aid budget in front of Zimbabwe in order to put some impetus behind the drive toward free and fair democratic elections there. Maybe Grace Mugabe will win one election which might smooth the transition to open democracy? You never know until you try.
  8. Ask the Foreign Office why the UK spends foreign aid money in any country that isn’t a Commonwealth member nation? It astonishing this has been allowed to happen. Keep the money in the family, Theresa! (No, it’s not her fault, it’s been going on for ages) Not one sterling in foreign aid should go to a non-Commonwealth nation. Ever. There are plenty of other countries to assist non-Commonwealth developing nations and it’s high time for them to step-up.
  9. Keep standing up loud and proud in the House of Commons. Some of Theresa May’s best days in office have been the recent PMQ’s where the PM dressed like the owner of the House of Commons and blasted anyone who tried to put one over on her. At the very least, give as good as you get Ms. Prime Minister.
  10. A lot less with the pleasantries Theresa, and a lot more banging your fist on the Cabinet table. If you don’t appear to be in charge, you’re not.

Don’t Let Brexit be ‘The Biggest Thing In The UK’ or the EU Will Own Your Narrative!

Sure, Brexit is important. But it’s only a means to an end.

What’s really important are the opportunities that come after Brexit, like the ability to trade with any nation in the world under rules decided through friendly bilateral talks.

It’s the ability to have a UK-only foreign policy. It’s the ability to allow only the people into the country that Britain wants and can afford to house and provide jobs — instead of being forced to accept millions of cast-offs from other nations, and to tailor Britain’s new infrastructure construction to actual, definable needs, instead of trying to provide enough appropriate housing during a time of staggeringly irregular refugee and economic migrant flows.

It’s the ability to create UK-only laws with the guidance of Britain’s best legal minds and with the approval of British citizens. (Although the European Court will continue to be an important source of guidance to UK courts, for a time)

And the UK won’t be sending (net) £8 billion annually to the EU just to be nice neighbours. ‘Oh Lovey, those nice Brits filled up the EU Parliament wine cellar again!’

Finally, ‘The Biggest Thing In The UK’ will again be the opportunity for it to become all that it can and should be — without restraint. And that should be Job Number One for every UK Prime Minister. Always.

Is Apology Due From Those Who Invest in Foreign Tax Havens?

by John Brian Shannon

Since revelations have surfaced that billions of pounds sterling have left the UK for foreign tax havens there have been calls for people using foreign tax avoidance schemes to be ‘guilted’ into making a public apology.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbin suggests that anyone using an offshore tax haven should apologize to the country.

One British person who has millions invested in the Cayman Islands is the acting Queen of the United Kingdom. We don’t know if Jeremy Corbin wants Elizabeth Regina to apologize to the British public for investing overseas, and we assume he knows the Queen isn’t required to pay tax under British law, but does so voluntarily.

On a more serious note, the Labour leader is quite right to be appalled at those who, having been raised and who earned a good living in one of the best countries in the world, would then take their money out of the country that made them rich to invest it offshore!

Why would they do it? Because they can make higher returns on their investment (at higher risk) and it’s a way for companies to lower their overall tax burden, and individuals can hide money from family members.


Simple Solutions Work Best

Like taxing any British sterling that leaves the country at 20 percent. That way, HM tax office collects significant revenue and the government can better fund schools, hospitals and roads, etcetera.

Even so, some will choose to invest overseas because they can earn 50% returns or better in so-called ‘Frontier economies’ and even having paid such a (proposed) tax they’ll still earn 30% or better.

For each individual or business the first 100,000 pounds sterling taken out of the country shouldn’t be taxed, but everything after £100,000 individuals and companies should be required by law to pay the 20% tax.

By using this high-ish threshold, Mom, Dad and the kids can go holiday-making in foreign countries and not have to pay the foreign withdrawal tax, perhaps in their entire lifetime.

NOTE: For the first £100,000 worth of withdrawals it could go in Dad’s name, then Mom could use her lifetime 100,000 pounds foreign withdrawal limit. Therefore, a family unit would have a combined lifetime limit of £200,000. Once they hit that threshold, thereafter they would pay 20% tax on each pound that they send or spend outside the country.


On a Separate Note; 19 Billion of Them, Actually

Britain loses about £19 billion annually on so-called ‘Foreign Remittances’ on account of foreign-born workers sending their money home to their families. Who could blame them?

Yet it’s a serious problem, but as previous governments haven’t figured out a way to stop it, it’s never been addressed.

SIX PERCENT of Thailand’s GDP comes from foreign remittances, for just one example, and many other countries count foreign remittances as an important part of their GDP.

UK - Remittance flows from Britain 2015 - Pew Research

Although foreign remittances are only rough estimates, at least $24,878,000,000 in remittances were sent from the United Kingdom to other countries in 2015 alone. The actual amount could be much higher. Image courtesy of Pew Research.

Therefore, expats should be able to send the first 100,000 pounds home without paying the 20% tax — but after that they’re draining the country of money(!) so they must begin to pay the tax when they hit the £100,000 mark.

The trick is to be fair with foreign workers who work hard to earn their money, but to stop the UK being unduly taken advantage-of which has been happening for decades.

The government relies on voluntary notifications of such foreign remittance sending, so the number is pegged at £3.2 billion pounds sterling on the GOV.UK website.

Money exchange units such as Western Union, PayPal, World Remit, and banks and trust companies know the real numbers, but interestingly, not one of them have ever been called to testify to the House of Commons about the gross total amounts transferred out of the UK annually. Not once…


It’s Either Treason Or it Isn’t. It Can’t be Both

With a 100,000 pound threshold, my tax idea isn’t aimed at *normal citizens* nor is it aimed at *normal expats* sending a few thousand pounds home to their families — it’s aimed at the fat cats, at the criminal syndicates, and at wealthy people who earned or inherited their fortunes in the UK who should be deeply ashamed they’re not re-investing in the country that made them rich.

To me, such people should have a fair trial on Friday and if they’re found guilty, let them be found guilty of treason (for that’s what it is, IMHO) and be shot dead on Monday — but that law isn’t likely to be passed in the UK House of Commons anytime soon.


It’s Been Going On for Decades; What to Do Now?

Perhaps we could say; ‘What’s gone on before now we can leave aside, as there weren’t sufficient laws nor guidance for individuals or companies, and frankly, in past decades the taxation rates were grievous to be borne by both individuals and companies’ — but at this late date we’re going to create new laws (that don’t need to be complicated!) to counter the astonishing, continuous, and increasing run on the country’s wealth.


Everything is Nothing – Unless You Can Accurately Quantify and Qualify It

Therefore, the UK government should call banking experts and wire transfer companies to testify (under oath) before the House of Commons as to the general extent of the foreign remittance problem and to quantify and qualify the offshore tax shelter monies that leave Britain annually for foreign tax havens.


How to Plug a Leak

The goal should be to compel banks and wire transfer companies to become ‘part of the solution instead of part of the problem’ as the government needs the information — the banks and transfer companies have it; the government doesn’t! — and nobody else on the planet could begin to figure it all out.

Getting a handle on this decades-long travesty (drum roll, please) could provide a double-boost to the UK economy by;

  1. preventing multi-billions of British sterling from leaving the country by making it uneconomical,
  2. and by capturing billions in tax revenue on money still determined to leave the country,
  3. and allowing the government to earn enough revenue to lower the corporate tax rate to 14.5% (to match Canada and other competitive nations’ corporate tax rate)
  4. which would drive investment to the UK in the billions, and perhaps a trillion pounds over 10 years.

See what plugging a leak can do for the United Kingdom?


Foreign tax havens

Foreign tax havens. Image courtesy of Cayman Financial Review. Click the image to visit Cayman Financial Review for general information on foreign tax havens.

Should the UK Have an Opinion on Catalonia?

by John Brian Shannon

As the UK remains a fully paid-up member of the 28-member European Union, it seems fair that the government should have a position on Catalonia’s recent move toward greater autonomy. Which in recent weeks, has grown beyond simple autonomy within the Spanish federal government architecture to seeking full independence, but the attempt has since been knocked down by the Spanish authorities.

Had the UK passed the Brexit threshold by now, it would be difficult indeed for the British government to have any public opinion at all as it then becomes a very different thing. It’s fair comment to opine on the internal politics of a fellow EU member state, but it is quite another for a non-member to criticize the goings-on in a foreign country.

For that reason, it’s well within Theresa May’s purview as the Prime Minister of a paid-up member of the European Union to comment on issues Catalonia.

Nigel Farage MEP certainly didn’t hold back from informing his viewers about his opinions on the Catalonian situation and it’s difficult to find flaws in his argument.

Certainly, it was a tragedy that 900 mainly peaceful protesters were injured and/or arrested by Spanish federal police, although many of those charges against protesters may be dropped in exchange for the much more serious charges against the police being dropped. Look for this to happen on a case-by-case basis. Many of the police are reputed to have used excessive force against the (probably annoying, but otherwise peaceful) protesters.

Until such times as Britain is no longer an EU member state, the UK and its citizens have every right to comment on the unfortunate Catalonian situation, but after Brexit I hope the government feels constrained about commenting on what will then be, a comment on the internal affairs of a sovereign bloc (the EU) a sovereign nation within the EU (Spain) and a state within that nation (Catalonia)


“What Goes Around, Comes Around”

This has been true since the universe began and were the British government to attempt to unduly affect the outcome (either way) in Catalonia, eventually it could work against the United Kingdom and conceivably against the Commonwealth, as there are rumours from time to time about disaffection among jurisdictions of either entity.

Therefore, it’s best for the UK government to comment in good form only and avoid trying to make political hay against the EU bloc simply because we may have other frustrations with them. (Hey, they’re frustrated too. It isn’t a one-way street. Let’s just get the Brexit done and not unduly antagonize the EU Parliament or its individual member states in the meantime, because that works better for the UK in the long run)


As a Member of the European Parliament and as a citizen of the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage has much more leeway to comment than the government, and his recent talk show brings up some fascinating points about Catalonia. Take a few minutes and watch Nigel take calls from all over the world about the attempted Catalonian secession.

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