It is difficult to believe that some senior members of the EU Commission are not secret Ukippers. To demand that Britain hands over more than €2bn because its economy is doing relatively well compared with the rest of the Eurozone, which is doing appallingly badly, is beyond satire. The idea that Germany, where the Merkel doctrine of unwavering austerity has brought the eurozone low, should now receive a rebate at Britain’s expense of £780m is the kind of black comedy normally associated with farce. The UK contribution to the EU budget is already large at £8.6bn last year, and this surcharge would now make the UK by far the biggest top-up contributor. What adds salt into the wound is that this surcharge stems from the EU charging the way it calculates gross national income to include more hidden elements such as prostitution and illegal drugs!
The unfairness of redistributing wealth is illustrated by the adamant refusal of Germany, the biggest beneficiary under this proposed surcharge, to redistribute debt across the EU which everyone recognises would resolve the massive and oppressive problems which is remorselessly dragging down the Eurozone. This problem which is crippling Greece in particular, but also Portugal and even France and Italy, is being blocked by Merkel, the German chancellor, on the grounds that deficit countries within the EU must make huge expenditure cuts and market ‘reforms’ (i.e. cutbacks in wages and employment) to bring themselves into line with German productivity. This is a deeply selfish policy on the part of Germany, especially when a programme of mutualising increasing wealth across the EU clearly has to be balanced by a programme of mutualising debt across the EU. But Germany wants to have its cake and eat it. Merkel’s policy is also foolish and destructive because lack of growth in the deficit countries makes it impossible for them to earn the means to pay down their huge interest payments and so their debt actually increases.
Politically, this could not have happened at a worst moment for Cameron or at a better moment for Farage. It will become a major issue in the Rochester by-election on 20 November where the latest poll now shows UKIP 13% ahead. This could unravel the Tory party. It will undoubtedly increase the pressure on the Tory far-right faction in Parliament to defect to UKIP, and even before this latest development polling has shown that there are at least 4-5 Tory MPs who would be more likely to retain their seats if they defected to UKIP. A further complication for Cameron is that there has to be a vote in the House before 1st December on whether the UK should opt-in to 35 EU justice and policing measures, including the European Arrest Warrant, on which 100 Tory MPs have threatened to rebel.
If the EU Commission wanted to drop a bombshell to rack up the changes of the UK exiting from Brussels, they couldn’t have done a better job of it.