Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Cunning subterfuge - or perhaps not

According to reports earlier this week, the UK Government is considering making aid payments to some of the poorer members of the EU, such as Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states in the hope that those countries will be more supportive of giving the UK a better deal over Brexit.  All of these independent countries are poorer than Wales of course which is why they're net recipients of EU funding.  But being independent states, they have more say than Wales does when it comes to the terms of Brexit.  Their votes count for more than anything Carwyn Jones says or does, and need to be bought.  Those who want to pursue this line are suggesting that the money should be diverted from the poorer countries in Asia and Africa where it is currently being spent as part of the overseas aid budget.
There is a ‘slight’ problem in that it would no longer count as foreign aid under OECD rules, so that the UK would then be failing to meet the international target of 0.7% of GDP, but I suppose that the Brexiteers would simply see that as another example of ‘taking back control’ from those foreign johnnies when it comes to spending ‘our’ money.  That seems to be the only obstacle that they perceive, but it isn’t the only one that strikes me.
Firstly, however such a proposal is dressed up, it’s a blatant piece of attempted bribery which in the commercial field would lead to politicians demanding an enquiry, a few rolled heads, and some lengthy terms of imprisonment.  I don't recall that bribery was one of those special 'British' values which the Prime Minister is always banging on about.  Perhaps it's one of those cases where some values are so obvious that they don't need to be spelled out.  It's also worthy of note, in passing at least, that one of the arguments of the Brexiteers was that we should opt out of being a net contributor to the EU, which can only mean ending those payments which find their way to the poorer parts of Europe.  I don't remember them saying that what they really meant was taking money away from even poorer countries in order to continue paying the poorer parts of Europe.

However the biggest problem that I foresee is that the politicians in the affected countries (and the rest of the EU) will be completely aware of what is being attempted.  Even if it weren’t being discussed in the media, any such move would be too obvious for them not to be.  But then, assuming that the other 27 members are stupid seems to be the basis of the UK’s whole negotiating position.  On the other hand, I suppose, they are foreigners after all…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and the 'aid' the UK government wants to give to eastern EU countries is coming from the development aid budget when Somalia is on the brink of famine, good old British values for you.