By Conor Holohan
On the 23rd of October this paper said ‘May must pay up or walk away’. If we wanted a favourable trade deal from the Brexit negotiations, we’d have to pay through the nose for it. The circumstances now are much the same, but rest assured, if we pay, a favourable deal we will get.
The reason we reached this conclusion was that it was perfectly clear to everyone that the European Union had an interest in punishing Britain for leaving.
If leaving the European Union was straightforward and inexpensive, other nations might follow, and the whole European project might head towards collapse, pulling down many economies and cushy pension schemes along with it.
Across the continent there is a considerable amount of Euroscepticism, illustrated by the electoral gains made by the likes of the Front National in France and AfD in Germany. The EU top brass know that they cannot allow this contingent to go on swelling if they wish to keep their pensions and their jobs – in which they are mostly insulated from the danger of a democratic dismissal from their post.
Therefore, the European Union must show its member states that leaving is not straightforward or inexpensive. How will this lesson manifest itself? Most remain campaigners said that the EU would teach its member states this by putting up tariffs on UK goods going into Europe or by refusing to lower the tariffs on UK goods to Single Market levels.
However, this approach would hurt the European Union. In the year to September 2016, the UK bought £60 million more in goods and services from Europe than it exported there. Any trading barriers the EU were to place between itself and the UK would lower that £60million figure.
This would lead to a loss of jobs on the continent, and though some may argue this would be a small price to pay to ensure no other countries exit the EU, they may find that the ballot box will bite back. After all, extreme forms of politics tend to flourish more readily in times of economic hardship, and the European establishment has been losing ground to the far-right and far-left in many of the EU’s largest financial contributors.
There is however a perfect way for the EU to punish the UK, made all more easy for them by David Davis’ absolute howler of agreeing to settle the Divorce Bill before negotiating a trade deal.
In order to deter further Eurosceptic sentiment, the EU will dig its fangs into the UK taxpayer’s neck, and…actually, forgive me; Theresa May will apologetically offer Michel Barnier somewhere around £50million of taxpayer money that she doesn’t have in the hopes that they will give her something to tell Tory MPs that might resemble some sort of progress or finesse in negotiation.
The figure is made up of contributions to EU budgets the UK has voted for as well as covering the cost of pensions for EU staff and other ambiguous long term costs which may have arisen from us ever having been a member of the bloc.
As European leaders and Brexit-backing figures pile on the pressure for May to make progress, she and Davis will be rushed into making this payment before Christmas, or talks will enter ‘crisis mode’ as EU officials have warned.
It is more than likely that this price, although vast, will lead to a very favourable trade deal. The workers in Germany and elsewhere will therefore keep their jobs, EU members states won’t be of pocket, exiting the EU will look expensive to people considering it and Theresa May will go down in history as a first class chump. It’s the silver bullet.