The Latest News From Europe

Saturday 25th October

Dear Mr. Cameron – you are fucked.

As happens every year the formula for calculating each countries’ contribution to the EU budget is re-assessed and adjusted accordingly.  It usually doesn’t make the news; all the countries involved know the rules, understand the process and pay up or receive a rebate accordingly.  But this year is different, not only is there now an element of the black economy included, though we do not actually know yet how much that has affected things, but far more importantly there is an election next year and UKIP are snapping at the heels of the Tories.  The size of our extra contribution is rather large this year; a result of our higher than expected increase in GDP and a lacklustre performance by most of our European neighbours.

Politically it could not have happened at a worse moment for Mr. Cameron.  He has already lost one by-election and looks as if he may lose a second soon – and both to a rampant UKIP who argue relentlessly that we have no control of our lives or destiny as members of the EU.  Added to that he has already picked a fight he will almost certainly lose over EU immigration from other European countries.  He is acting as if he has only just discovered both the principle and the amount, whereas of course the civil servants at the Treasury will have known the formula and have calculated the amount themselves I am certain.  But if Cameron simply pays it he will look weak and UKIP will romp home at Rochester and Strood.  So Mr. Cameron does what he always does best – bluster and insist he will not be paying the amount (by 1st December).  He will insist on negotiations and may well get some reduction in the actual amount, but he will not be able to change the system.  Just as he will bluster and insist that he will get a significant reform of the EU by 2017.  He is simply building up problems for the future.  And actually I am not sure anyone believes him anyway.  He should have been negotiating long before now, but in a positive way, not by banging the table and insisting that everyone else changes.  I am more certain than ever before that the wind of fortune is blowing hard behind UKIP and they will do far better even than their high poll ratings suggest.