Think of a number

The UK is currently deadlocked on talks with the EU over how to not have a border on the island of Ireland (no idea) how to settle citizens rights (stop being a dick about it) and the question of money — lets talk about that last one.

The EU wants us to agree to the principle that financial commitments made as 28 will be paid as 28. That means we need to go through the very big list of things that we have committed to funding in the UK and around the EU27 including loans and pensions and all that jazz. We could do that, but our side don’t want to bother. They would rather throw out random numbers and say “we would never pay €100bn” or “we could maybe pay €20bn”. It is all rather silly, we shouldn’t be starting with guessing at acceptable numbers but doing the work to come up with a correct number. Nevertheless, we are where we are, in negotiations with our side being a bunch of workshy layabouts who don’t want to engage with the problem or even turn up to do the job.

There might be an alternative approach to this, let me take you back in time to 27th March 1972 (image swirls, we are all now dressed like Austin Powers — yeah baby) and we can take a look at the accession treaty that took the UK into the EU, specifically Article 130 — the financial on-ramp that meant we were not paying in full for commitments jointly made prior to our accession.

The Communities’ own resources and also the financial contributions and, where appropriate, the contributions referred to in Article 4(2), ( 3 ) and (4) of the Decision of 21 April 1970 shall be due from the new Member States to the following extent only :

45.0% in 1973
56.0% in 1974
67.5% in 1975
79.5% in 1976
92.0% in 1977.

So there we have it, our contributions to the EU built up over 5 years as we joined. If the Tories are going to continue to be workshy layabouts then lets think of a number that makes sense. If we take our current contribution to the EU budget of around £13.1bn and then pay that over 5 years with a mirroring off-ramp, so 92% of it in the year after Brexit down to 45% in 2025 then that sum would be £44.54bn. It is in the ballpark of the figures that have been discussed, it is arguable that it is fair, it is affordable, it is decreasing, it has some justification. Lets sling it out there, and see if that is enough to allow the disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox to get on with some trade deals.

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