Friday, December 02, 2005

More money to the EU

We are informed this week that our dearest leader, Mr T. Blair, has gone one step further in his mission to sell British interests down the river. Not content with outsourcing our immigration policy to Europe, the British rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 is now under threat.

Some background: in 1984, Margaret Thatcher, as Prime Minister, negotiated a £3.2bn rebate from Britain's annual contribution to the European Union, to compensate for the fact that Britain only received a small share of farm subsidies. The subsidies, paid out under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), mainly benefited France and Germany. Last year, even taking the rebate into account, Britain still paid two and a half times more to the European union than France. Over the past few months, Jacques Chirac, the President of France, has been putting pressure on Tony Blair to surrender the rebate. This pressure has intensified in recent days, with moral blackmail applied from all quarters. Following the latest Treaty of Accession, ten smaller, poorer European countries have joined the EU. The point is that if Britain holds on to the rebate, it will be paying a relatively smaller portion of its 'share'. Up until recently, Tony Blair has insisted that there would be no deal on the rebate without reform of the CAP. This is a fair compromise.

That all changed in the last few days. The Prime Minister has now 'signalled' a willingness to cut the rebate by between 12-15 per cent, but without a corresponding deal on the CAP. This is capitulation, plain and simple. Blair is no doubt trying to paint himself as the great statesman, acting in the interests of Europe rather than in the parochial interests of one small country. I am sorry, Mr Blair, but that won't wash. Jacques Chirac has stubbornly refused to give an inch on the CAP. Bullish, obstinate, maybe, but at least he is acting in the interests of his country. As I have mentioned before, Tony Blair is keen to secure some sort of political legacy. His time is now running short, and he will settle for any sort of legacy. He is not choosy. Any legacy will do, even if it is that of the man who sold out his country's interests for a chance at grandstanding on the international stage. Obviously he will not see it quite that way.
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