Unsurprisingly, a huge leap in Ukip support was reported following the £1.7 billion EU surcharge imposed on the UK to reflect the ‘black economy’ of illegal drugs, prostitution and tobacco-smuggling within its GDP.
Now, this isn’t a molehill, it’s a mountain! The EU’s penalising the UK for having the most successful economy in the EU, whilst rewarding countries like France for being economic basket cases!
And as for the EU’s attempts to dismiss the problem by claiming these are the rules, no way! The real issue is: how have the rules been interpreted and applied? It seems blindingly obvious different countries have different ways of operating. And that the UK has taken a more meticulous approach to reporting income from such intangible sources as drugs, prostitution and tobacco-smuggling than Germany, France or Austria – all lined up for rebates. Or maybe failed to smell a rat where others, more savvy, did?
Unfortunately, Britain is a land of rule-makers and administrators. Show it a rule, and it’ll be applied unquestioningly. Other countries decide on different criteria.
The real tragedy of the EU is that the shedloads of tax-payers’ money which have been and are still being wasted (moving between Strasbourg and Brussels /bloated bureaucracy, pay and allowances /vanity translation and interpreting services /duplicated diplomatic representation) would, spent sensibly under individual nations’ control, have resulted in greater prosperity and better defence against terrorists.
The EU is like a rudderless ship driven by ideology and holed below the water-line. Rather than make crucial structural repairs (deep, wide-ranging reform), it settles for quick-fixes and takes on more payload (regulation, centralisation and bureaucracy) so guaranteeing it slinks further behind and deeper in the water.
And unless it endorses immediate reform – including reduction of bureaucracy and regulation, liberalisation of labour markets, overhaul of immigration controls etc – the UK with the mythical magnet of its infamous “soft touch” benefits system runs the risk of going down with it.
Finally, let’s return to that £1.7bn surcharge that, we’re told, now takes account of drugs, prostitution and tobacco-smuggling. Doesn’t this number somehow indicate the UK spends more on those items than basic foodstuffs? Given my own food bill, it seems some of my fellow citizens are having a lot more fun then me! What about you?
Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) availablefrom Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca