The remainers are very fond of analogies in their “explanations” as to why the UK has to cough up huge amounts of money to the EU both before and after we supposedly leave. Their favourite analogies involve members of clubs and their taking on obligations which they have to honour if they leave the club.
Here is an example of what happens in the real world when a club member ends his or her membership: Suppose a club has a membership fee of £500 a year. Its executive board decides to raise the fee to £750 pa to pay for a new and bigger clubhouse. This is put to the members who vote to go ahead with the plan. Members who do not wish to pay a higher membership fee leave the club. No one expects them to keep on paying towards the new clubhouse. Nor, if the club has paid employees with a pension scheme run by the club, would members who left be expected to pay towards these pensions. That is essentially the position of the UK in relation to the EU. We owe them nothing.
The negotiation – the strong cards in the UK’s hands which have not been played
If May was sincerely behind Brexit and possessed of a modicum of courage and nous she would have realised that she had a very strong hand to play because she was holding these bargaining cards:
1) The shortfall in the funding for the EU caused by the UK’s withdrawal.
Instead of simply throwing this card away by adopting the favourite internationalist ploy of “setting an example” by offering £20 billion (a ploy guaranteed to make the opposing side pocket the offer without giving anything in return and then ask for more), May should have not made any offer and instead have insisted that the EU provide a detailed computation of the net amount they were claiming the UK owed and most importantly give the legal basis for their claim.
2) There many more EU migrants living in the UK than British citizens living in other EU countries.
Estimates vary but UK citizens living in other EU states may be as low as 90,000 and as high as 1.2 million. The number of EU migrants in the UK could be as high as 3.7 million. Migration Watch UK puts the figure at 3.3 million. The question of how many have the right to permanent residence is complex because of the interplay of EU law with British law but it is a reasonable bet that the large majority will qualify for permanent residence status under current rules. Moreover, based on the UK’s performance when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants it is stretching credulity to believe any UK government would be willing or able to deport huge numbers of EU state citizens.
The fact that there are three times the number of EU citizens in the UK than there are Britons in the EU means that the UK has to bear a vastly heavier burden than any other EU country both in terms of direct state funding for the support of foreign EU nationals – education, healthcare, in and out of work benefits and so on – and the indirect costs such as depressed wages for many native Britons and much higher housing costs. This is not simply because there are three times as many EU nationals in the UK as there are Britons in the EU. The UK has to bear the entire burden of the EU nationals in the UK while the remaining EU states have only to take a fraction of the one million Britons living in other EU states.
Then there is the question of children. The children of EU migrants with the right to residence in the UK will themselves have the right to residence in the UK. Consequently, the gross difference between the numbers of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU means that EU nationals resident in the UK are likely to produce many more children than UK citizens in EU states. This effect will be amplified by the differences in the age profiles of EU migrants living in the UK and British citizens living in other EU countries. The age profile of EU migrants in the UK is younger than that of UK citizens living in other EU states. Consequently, they are likely to have more children pro rata than UK citizens living in EU countries. As things stand these children will have the right to British residency regardless of where they are born.
In a sane world, the date at which EU immigrants should no longer be able to claim residency in the UK should be the day after the referendum, namely, 23 June 2016. Sadly, sanity is the last thing to expect of the EU so the ongoing stream of immigrants from the EU into the UK since the referendum will have rights of residence. That immigration has continued to rack up some impressive numbers. Even if the UK leaves in March 2019 that will mean thirty-three months have passed since the referendum in June 2016. At the level of EU immigration since the referendum the net figure for new EU immigrants arriving in the UK before March 2019 will be around 30,000. Moreover, if there is a transitional period when the UK remains a full member of the EU it could be much higher for there is no set period for the transition as yet and it is quite conceivable that any transitional period will be extended and extended. It is also a reasonable assumption that if it looks as though Brexit is to be emasculated or overthrown completely the volume of EU migrants will rise. As for the future status of EU migrants in the UK, the EU is seeking what seems to be open-ended ECJ involvement in decisions on how EU migrants in the UK will be treated.
[To be continued in Part Four tomorrow here on UKIP Daily.]