There is no legal basis for making any extra payments to the EU

There are some on the continent who seem to think the UK will have to pay to leave the EU, based around negotiations over how much of the continuing liabilities of the EU the UK must pay. This is all nonsense.

There is no power in the EU Treaties to impose an additional one off levy on a state as it leaves the EU. Nor is there any power in the Treaty to demand any continuing budget contributions after departure. This is wise, as of course once a state leaves it leaves behind the judicial authority of the EU which would be the means of enforcing any such payment. Article 50 is clear. Once the state leaves  it has  no further rights and benefits, and no further duties or obligations.

It is of course true the Treaty does not prevent the EU accepting a payment volunteered by a departing state if it wished to pay one. However, the UK could not make such a payment legally under our own law and system for controlling public spending. Ministers can only authorise spending and sign cheques for approved expenditure under UK legislation and with Parliamentary authority for the budget provision that covers the payments. Ministers have proper authority to make the annual contribution payments to the EU, required by the Treaty as incorporated into UK law by the European Communities Act.  They have absolutely no authority to make one off additional payments to the EU, and would have no authority to make contributions after we have left and have repealed the 1972 Act.

They will also find that if they wanted to make a payment as overseas aid to the EU it would not qualify under our Aid budget criteria, as the EU as a whole is too rich. The only way UK Ministers could authorise a leaving payment would be to put through an Act of Parliament specifically authorising such an ex gratia  payment. I can’t see many Conservative MPs wanting to vote for that.

Being in the EU is a bit like being a student in a College. All the time you belong to the College you have to pay fees. You have to obey all the rules of the institution. When you depart you have no further financial obligations, and you no longer have to obey their rules and accept their discipline. If you liked the College rules you can still apply them to yourself voluntarily. The College does not on your departure say we have borrowed money to improve the College while you were her so you will have a continuing bill for servicing the College debts. It does not say we failed to make proper provision for the future pensions of the people who taught you, so we will send you additional bills for their pensions. All your rights to reside and learn at the College cease, and all your duties to pay and obey cease. So it is with a country’s membership of the EU.

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71 Comments

  1. stred
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    A very clear an well argued piece. Let;s hope the mandarins read it and Mrs May gets the message. On the trade deal discussions, she did not seem too clear that we could start at the pace hoped for by the US. Facts4eu seems to have found a commission spokesman who explains that discussing the menu is legal, but not ordering the food. Perhaps the mandarins could start acting as if they were being paid by the British on this matter too.

    http://facts4eu.org/news.shtml

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Remind me of Cameron saying he will not pay the extra demand fo £1.7 billion and then quietly handed over £2.9 billion. The veto that never was, he never stopped any EU country from using EU institutions, he paid the £90 million for the Strasbourg refit after saying he would not, May volunteered to give away our rights under Magna Carter for the EU arrest warrant, EU energy policy, EU environment policy causing flooding and destitution to British people, gives a sixth of overseas aid to the EU to spend as it pleases without any recourse to the U.K.! Use the navy as a ferry service for the EU for immigrants helping human traffickers and dingy death traps, accepts Merkel’s mass immigration imposed upon the whole of the EU. There are many examples which are not legally enforceable by which your party willingly and freely gives away to the EU. There is a clear and distinct track record including the current PM May. I am at a loss to understand your point when the leadership in your party for decades has shown it does not need to be legally enforceable for it to willingly give away our hard earned money, rights or liberties to the EU.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I am trying to understand your position, Mr Redwood.
    Are you honestly saying that you want us to leave the EU like someone leaving College? When we both left Cambridge we, no doubt, carried happy memories away – and nothing else. Now neither of us have any obligations and, if we want to, we need never go back again. Our College has no hold over us.
    So we just walk away form the EU?
    What about, say, the pharmaceutical industry? What about the difficulties over air travel? Are you really saying that we should have no trade or travel to the Continent?
    What about all those Brits who have pension pots from the EU? Who will pay for those? What about our agreement that our finances are fixed up until 2020 anyway?
    Do we simply refuse to pay?
    I cannot believe that this is what you mean. If you want the details, then do look on Richard North’s blog at
    http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/BrexitMonograph003.pdf

    Reply Of course I am not saying that. I have endlessly set out how we will continue all current commercial contacts.

    • John
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply:

      You certainly seem to be saying exactly that. Perhaps you could clarify your position a bit more. What do you believe will happen regarding pharmaceuticals and airline travel?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Despite frequent intimations to the contrary I think we should still credit the government and civil service with some degree of intelligence and knowledge, even if not quite as much as certain bloggers who delight in highlighting potential difficulties when we leave the EU – unless of course we circumvent the problems by adopting their preferred exit route, even if it will not take us to where we want to be.

        Theresa May, January 25th 2017:

        https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-01-25/debates/2C0D6980-7BD9-49A3-A401-61B9DCB7B803/Engagements

        “There are a number of organisations that we are part of as members of the European Union. As part of the work that we are doing to look at the United Kingdom’s future after we leave the European Union, we are looking at the arrangements we can put in place in relation to those issues. The pharmaceutical industry in this country is a very important part of our economy, and the ability of people to access these new ​drugs is also important. I assure the hon. Lady that we are looking seriously at this and will ensure that we have the arrangements that we need.”

        Where there is a political will there is (almost?) always a legal way.

    • Frits de Vries
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Quoting from the article you link to:

      Whatever arrangements are made, termination of UK involvement in EU programmes and agency participation is not an option. Between sophisticated, open trading economies, a high degree of cross-border cooperation will always be necessary. And in the current security environment, neighbouring nations are seeking to increase rather than reduce joint activities.

      Translated: You need the scope and scale of regional collaboration or you will be forced to suck up what big companies dictate. Most professionals in environment, security, pharma, phyto pharma, H&S norms etc etc are aware of this need for collaboration.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      A gentle response, JR, compared to the slapdowns Mike sometimes receives from the author of that (now apparently anti-Brexit) blog, but he still goes back for more …

  3. Mick
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/760207/brexit-rebel-conservative-mps-pro-eu-white-paper-commons-vote
    There’s not going to be no Brexit if remoaners like grieve get there way, well muppet grieve you had better think on because if you betray the people you and all the other remoaners will have to answer for your actions , I’m getting pretty fed up of reading or listening to remoaners trying to keeping us in the failed eu, if you don’t want to live in a free country then GO and live in your beloved Europe

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Important as Brexit (remain / Referendum) is, not worth getting so bothered about it – far more important things to worry about / think about / enjoy:

      – having good friends and family, good sex life in your married life, job satisfaction, good social life with lots of humour, music and arts in general, interesting places to visit, the millions of poor around the world, getting old, sickness, and death (and whether there’s life after death etc which i strongly believe there is).

  4. Springer
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Let us hope so.

    Off topic, is Mrs May really standing in the way of sensible labour law reform as Charles Moore suggests yesterday? Why? How can rail and (other companies and indeed government) run things efficiently with the current damaging over protective employment laws?

    This in his Telegraph article “Rail unions have declared war – but we won’t end public misery by surrendering.”

    • 37/6
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      You’ll probably find that equality laws are a far more problematic issue than ‘over protective’ employment laws. No-win-no-fee lawyering empowers wayward employees too – it is very difficult to sack an employee for anything less than criminal activity if they choose to present themselves as a victim or a minority.

      Otherwise Mrs Thatcher’s labour forms were effective and far reaching – the recent 50% strike rule should be enough.

      If the rail Unions have indeed declared war then they will be extremely limited by both this and the limitations set on them by the fragmentation of the rail industry through privatisation.

  5. Lordblagger
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    How much is the eu going to pay the uk for the uk’s share of its assets?

    Sorry but you need to start a neogiation from the right place. Pit the right on the. Ack foot

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Lordblagger,

      As you indicate the (hypothetical) asset share is similar to the (hypothetical) pensions liability share – so the UK and EU could waste forever with a futile discussion. The larger 10s of billions figures that are floated around match the current 2014 – 2020 budget commitment, so I suspect UK will remain in EU until the end of this, or it will be part of transition period.

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Well, JR, from what she told a Lords sub-committee on January 18th it seems that Dr María-Luisa Sánchez-Barrueco more or less completely agrees with you:

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/eu-financial-affairs-subcommittee/brexit-eu-budget/oral/45724.html

    However even if the strict legal position is as you and she describe it there is a political and diplomatic sting in the tail:

    “What will happen? First, the UK or the Union will suffer an immense loss of international prestige. In my opinion, that will hit the UK, which is poised to become a new international global actor, harder. What message will be sent to the potential partners of the UK if the UK did not honour its commitments, even though it is no longer legally obliged to do so? The consequences will be in the political and diplomatic spheres. I would expect retaliation in a variety of domains.”

    • zorro
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Hahaha….. ‘immense loss of international prestige’…. The exact opposite will be the case. We will have seats on international bodies which had been ceded to the EU and our vote will have equal weight.

      zorro

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        She’s only referring to this specific scenario, “if the UK did not honour its commitments, even though it is no longer legally obliged to do so”. But there are other issues where we could look bad in the eyes of the world if we do not take care to occupy the moral highground.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        And with us gone surely France will come under greater pressure to relinquish its role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in favour of an EU nominee.

  7. Newmania
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    So its like when Scotland leaves the UK and has no on-going liablity to pay for its portion of the National debt then . John was very clear on that point , at the time , waving them off with a generous wave of his fraternal hand ……

    • libertarian
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Newmania

      Oh dear, more top flight business ignorance from you.

      The UK is the second largest contributor to the EU and contributes more to the EU budget than the other 26 ( exc Germany) countries combined. Therefore there is no liability to pay

      Scotland on the other hand is a recipient of funds. ( If it was up to me though I would let Scotland off if they agree to immediate independence)

    • Richard1
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Err no it’s like saying if Scotland were to leave the U.K. Scotland would have no ongoing obligation to pay eg for the rUK NHS, or for Trident, nor vice versa. Spot the difference?

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      So long as we can stop subsidising Scotland then good riddance.

      The EU, however, does not subsidise us. We subsidise it !

    • forthurst
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Maybe the Scots should just pay the cost of bailing out the Scottish banks?

  8. James Matthews
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Sounds logical, sensible and entirely fair to me – so the EU will obviously disagree.

  9. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    No doubt some mean minded Remoaner will take the issue to court.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Yes.

      So it might be wise for the government to say something like:

      “Her Majesty’s government admits no legal liability for the payments demanded by the EU. However from its goodwill towards the peoples of the other member states the UK is prepared to negotiate certain ex gratia payments towards the satisfaction of future financial commitments made by the EU which were agreed while the UK was still a member state.”

  10. James neill
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Agreed yes.. but the uk will not leave the eu finally and until all of the brexit negotiations are complete and that will be march 2019 at the earliest and most probably at a much later date. It will depend very much on michel barnier the eu chief and his team and of course the uk negotiating team, at the moment, headed by david davis . Things will have to be followed in an orderly and respectful manner by both sides because don’t forget that when all of the brexit talks are completed and the uk finally withdraws only then can the talks about any new arrangement with the eu begin.. this is going to a long drawn out affair and we had better get used to it. There is no point in trying to pretend otherwise- this is going to be difficult and painful.and we are going to have to pay according to our treaty obligations.

    • Richard Clark
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Good to read a sensible and calm commentary instead of the often insulting and aggressive tone of many other contributors.

      In relation to all the often wildly optimistic talk of trade deals, readers could note that these can be very lengthy and difficult. The average time to complete is 7 years and the average number of trade negotiators is 300. The UK has less than half this number of the highly skilled staff needed. If we have a very hard Brexit we are likely to lose 53 trade deals negotiated by the EU on behalf of the bloc. To end up falling back on the bureaucratic and sclerotic WTO without any trade deals and possibly high tariffs and non tariffs barriers to trade seems very silly to me.

  11. formula57
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The concern must be that the final deal as approved by Parliament will contain authorization to Ministers to make continuing payments. Such arrangements are a predictable means of appeasing Remoaner parliamentarians.

    Continuing apparently unconcerned to surrender a net c. £850 million a month in contributions to help sustain the Evil Empire whilst it readies itself in its leisurely way to implement Brexit shows this government is not especially concerned with what the UK pays out.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Nicely and very clearly put. Your last paragrapgh reminded me of the attitude of my eldest grandson. He cannot wait to be free of the institutional constraints of being at school. He has yet to discover, of course, the restraints that will be imposed by his ability to earn his own living – though he is very well aware that they are on the horizon.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I hope our negotiators accept your logic and that of millions of us others.

    If they cut up rough send them a bill for our share of the EU Buildings and infrastructure we have funded, as well as the computer systems other equipment, and the thousands of cars they have purchased to chauffeur around the pampered elites.

    We also need to make absolutely sure that we are no longer on the hook for any future or bailout arrangements.
    If we have any money deposited in certain EU accounts outside of our normal annual contributions, then we need those back as well.

    Leave means leave, simples.

  14. Bert Young
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Quite agree that we will not have any sort of obligation – financial or otherwise , after we have left the EU . Prior to leaving we ought to receive a pay – off settlement for the loans and the proportional cost of the buildings and other assets we have contributed to . The EU will be in deep financial trouble once our payments to it ceases ; the EU knows this and will want to scramble up what they can before going hand in glove to Germany .

    The response from ” Juncker ” yesterday was beyond belief ; he thought that a United Europe could influence the world !. There are no lessons from a defunct bureaucracy that could hold sway or influence policies or decisions in world affairs – the opposite would be true . The lesson we have learnt is that national identity and independence is what counts .Outside central administration is – and will always be , unwieldy and costly .

  15. MickN
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Is anyone able to tell us which audited accounts they have seen for EU finances that set out these so called liabilities? Last I heard was that there was so much misuse of finances and corruption that no set of accountants is prepared to sign them off and haven’t for about 20 years.

    • hefner
      Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      The situation is more complex than what you think. The best explanation I found is

      FullFact.org/Europe/did-auditors-sign-eu-budget

      20/06/2016
      Can also be found by searching for “Is the EU’s budget signed off by auditors”
      Spoiler: The EU budget (roughly the size of the NHS budget) is out of kilt by 3.8%.
      Question: what is the percentage of the imbalance in the UK budget? you know, the bit that goes to increase the deficit and the related debt.
      Then consider the number of column inches in various newspapers devoted to these two imbalances, and make your mind.

    • Doug Powell
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Great point! The UK should send the EU a bill for our portion of monies ‘lost’ by the EU’s corruption/fraud/bribery/incompetence over the past 20 years.
      I attach a link to the EU’s OWN report on corruption:

      http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/economy-corruption.tjo

  16. graham1946
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    In the Treaties and law maybe, but are you sure some of our crackpot politicians in the past have not signed away our legal rights anywhere or have said they will pay towards some EU project still to be enacted?

    They say we owe 60 billion. Whys is that? Are you sure they are just trying it on and are you sure the Great Ditherer agrees with your analysis?

  17. ferdinand
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It is a sad commentary that there is a need to explain. I do not believe most remainers do not understand this. They are singly raising any fanciful objections that might make them feel less wronged.

  18. Colin Garrett
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Well said John Redwood. I would never think of making payments to an institution that (I am told) has NEVER had its accounts signed off by its auditors.

    • Richard Clark
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Not true about the accounts, but what a myth this is and how it continues to distort the truth. The European Court of Auditors sign off the accounts every year and find areas of concern over spending. This is no different to any other organisation. If the criteria used by the Court were applied to the UK Government’s books it is quite likely they would not be signed off.

      John Redwood has been banging on about the EU for years, has nothing constructive to say about it and regularly makes extremely silly and irresponsible suggestions about leaving.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Clark, you seem to think that the EU Court of Auditors acknowledgement that, typically, 3-5% of the annual budget, or Euro 5-7 Billion, of erroneous payments is acceptable. I do hope you don’t have responsibility of any UK public money…

  19. Antisthenes
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Your understanding of what obligations the UK will be under after leaving the EU appear eminently obvious, fair and reasonable. However wounded pride often shies away from fair and reasonable in favour of retribution and punishment. The EU will suffer much after Brexit more than pride will be wounded. So will it’s finances and it’s viability will come under question. The UK quits because her people realised that the burden of membership far outweighs the benefits. Increasing the burden that the remaining members will have to bear that will impact adversely on contributors and beneficiaries alike.

    Brussels will try in the short term at least to mitigate against that difficulty as not to do so may see others follow in the UK’s wake. So the negotiations will no doubt centre around either restitution and/or keeping the UK tied to the EU in some way that keeps at least some contribution flowing. The stick will be the access to the single market which would be of no consequence if it was not for the problem of the vociferous and disruptive elements within the ranks of the remainers and the soft Brexiteers. Misguided they may be but their harrying at the backs of the UK negotiators whilst those negotiators confront the equally difficult and intransigent EU negotiators does not augur well for the outcome.

  20. zorro
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, I have mentioned before that there is no provision in the Treaties for monetary divorce deals. We leave, stop payments and have no more access on resources. We have been a net contributor for many years and gave a ‘stake’ in those which we are foregoing on exit. Unfortunately, this noise is another trick by EU devotees to make exit appear ‘too difficult’…. Any requests for further post exit contributions should be clearly, decisively and politely refused.

    zorro

  21. Howard Osborn
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! Could you see to it that all opposition party members have a copy of this? It would be something for them to chew over.

  22. Ken Guest
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    What about all the real estate owned by the EU that previous UK financial contributions have helped to fund ……. are we entitled to a pro-rata payment from the EU reimburse this value ?

  23. Posted January 29, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Perfectly stated, or, as I would say, it’s like resigning from a golf club. You write to the secretary confirming your intention to cease to be a member and to your bank to cancel the subscription. You have no further entitlements in respect of the club and no further liabilities.
    The idea, promoted by remainers that we engaged in a ‘divorce’ from the EU must be resisted at all stages of the debate

    • Brian Corlett
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Of course but if you then want to carry on playing the course you will be subject to green fees and if you wish to join another club instead you will be subject to waiting lists (and green fees wherever you play).

  24. Geoffrey Bennetts
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Spot on John Redwood and eloquently expressed, as ever!

  25. Pd
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    What about pension liabilities for the likes of the poor old kinnocks and their ilk?

  26. rose
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Quite right, and can’t be said often enough. We aren’t an errant husband being asked to pay alimony and maintenance. We are reclaiming our national independence, having put a huge amount of money and good sense into this wrong-headed organization. If they want to calculate sums owed, then money is owed to us, for all those years of investment by us in EU assets while others took out.

    • hefner
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Interesting comment. What do you think of all the money spent over decades in the countries of the British Empire?

  27. Peter Wood
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,
    I am grateful and relieved to see this review. I see no commercial reason to pay into a body that seeks to do us harm, and has never had a clean Audit report.
    In similar vein; we hear from certain MEP’s that we cannot negotiate free trade agreements while still a member of the EU. However, according to Lawersforbritain.org, we can. I do hope Mrs. May continues her good commercial efforts in this regard and have a number of FTA’s ready for signature on the date of our finally leaving the EU.

  28. Jack
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Once the UK is no longer making payments to the EU, please redirect the funds into government spending or tax cuts, not reducing the budget deficit!

    The budget deficit is already dangerously small and must not fall further, since the private credit structure, which is currently extremely weak, could collapse.

    A smaller govt deficit will mean a larger private sector deficit as households will be further forced into draining their savings. I hope one day the government will understand its duty as the sovereign issuer of the currency, and expand its deficit as needed.

  29. Murray Geddes
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Could we not body swerve this by not
    giving money to the EU but give aid from
    the foreign aid budget to Estonia etc. on a
    one to one basis for infrastructure projects.
    We would require that they erected large
    billboards with a union flag and the words
    FUNDED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM.
    The Baltics are small but a deal has to be
    agreed by QMV so it may help us at no cost
    since we are committed to 0.7% anyway. It
    may also be more transparent that much of
    our aid.

  30. Murray Geddes
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry incomplete e-mail address on post

  31. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Very sensible but what’s the betting we will capitulate during the negotiations. Some ministers and MPs are saying they don’t have any problems paying for access to the single market. That’s despite us having a massive trading deficit with them.
    Why all the noise about Trump banning certain nationalities travelling to the States. Perhaps he understands where the problem of terrorism lies.
    Why do the great and good want to jeopardise the rest of the country just to salve their wishy washy conscience.

  32. eeyore
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    This coming week will be fired the first salvoes in possibly the greatest Parliamentary battle of our lifetime. I hope and trust that the wise statesman through whose kind offices we comment here will have opportunity to do full justice to himself, his arguments and his country.

    I hope too that, as Edmund Burke said during another mighty constitutional struggle nearly 250 years ago, Parliament will remember there is nothing inglorious in yielding to the people of England.

  33. miami.mode
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    As another analogy, and because we have been an integral part of the EU, you could say that because we are somewhere approaching 15% of the EU population that a similar percentage of their admin staff are employed purely for our benefit and we would therefore be liable for their severance pay when they are made redundant plus a contribution for their defined benefit pensions. There would be a similar situation if, say, a government department in the UK was closed if it was no longer relevant or required.

    If the EU chooses not to make them redundant then any resultant costs would be down to them.

    All this, of course, would be offset by our assets within the EU some of which you have previously listed.

    UK MPs have complained bitterly over the past few years where large employers have managed to do a bit of a runner, all within the law of course, and left the state to pick up the bill and you have constantly said that we want to remain friends with the EU after we leave.

  34. Ed Mahony
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Brexit was looking hopeful, but i think things have swung the other way again with what Trump has said and done in recent days in general – he’s now the ‘friend’ who is more of a hindrance than a help, in being associated with, regarding Brexit.

  35. BobE
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I will be amazed if Dithering Doris actually lets us leave the EU.
    BobE

  36. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    The EU and their demands for extra payments from the UK border on insanity when you consider the money we have had to spend on renewables and all that junk.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/28/collective-act-make-believe-devastating-environment-budgets/

    Just read this link to see the madness involved in renewable energy and the real cost to our economy and the environment. You have to read it to understand the gross waste and damage renewables are actually doing to the planet and to our economy. Gobsmacked doesn’t come near to how I feel now.

  37. Murray Geddes
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Who do we pay money to so we
    can trade with them? Who pays
    us money to trade with us?

  38. Margaret
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    If one is leaving they havn’t left , therefore surely under the jurisdiction of the EU.

  39. Briton
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    So the US has “clarified” the Trump ban for the UK Foreign Office. It comes to something when Americans need to explain a document written plain English to English people.

    Parliament is full of very poorly educated people indeed. Their speaking ability is quite extraordinary. Their ability to pass examinations at school and university is exemplary. Nevertheless they are as thick as two short planks.
    Our education system is fundamentally flawed!

  40. Julien Tabulazero
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Dear Sir,

    How do you propose walking away from the UK’s commitment under the EU 2014-2020 funding cycle and negotiate shortly afterward a FTA with the said EU ?

    Best regards

    Reply We will pay most of the contributions for the current funding cycle, ending them when we leave

  41. Paolo Alberto BRERA
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    There are several ongoing programmes that were agreed upon and must receive money from the signing parties. If Britain stops paying its fair share (consideration: its fair share of benefits), it will set a precedent–namely, Britain can’t be trusted to honor its engagements.

    Also, some ex EU employees are paid pensions by the EU and they are Britons. It would be fair for Britain to shoulder the expense, as it did benefit from their work.

    All of that and more shall be the subject of the coming Brexit negotiation. There’ll be some give and take.

    In the EU, third-party nations’ citizens do not automatically enjoy a right to own real estate or stock in an EU country. There’s nothing in the Treaties preventing the 27 from making it illegal for Britons to own land houses or stock in the EU, even if they’re long-time residents, when Britain is no longer an EU member country. Fairness is fairness, and it shoudl be applied in everything.

    • Andy
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      You are talking drivel. I owned a house in Greece long before Greece was a member of the European Union. You seem to think the EU is a State: it is not. And have you never heard of International law ?? The UK can have bi-lateral agreements with members of the EU covering a host of things including property. There is nothing in the Treaties. And you talk about ‘fairness’. The United Kingdom has been one of the largest contributors to the EU since we joined. So how about the EU being ‘fair’ to the UK for a change ??

  42. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Incidentally, if you think the EU is trying it on with a €60 billion bill when we leave the EU – as they no doubt are – see what the ECB says about countries leaving the euro:

    http://www.euractiv.com/section/euro-finance/news/ecb-any-country-leaving-eurozone-must-settle-bill-first/

    “ECB: Any country leaving eurozone must settle bill first”

    “Based on November data from the Target 2 payment system, that would leave Italy with a €358.6 billion tab.”

    “… Italy, Spain and Greece have accumulated huge liabilities towards Target 2 while Germany stands out as the biggest creditor with net claims of €754.1 billion.”

    And then as there is no EU treaty provision for a country to leave the euro without also leaving the EU altogether, there would be an additional bill on top of that …

    Nevertheless, Jürgen Stark seems to think it may happen:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/01/29/eurozone-destruction-necessary-countries-thrive-warns-former/

    “In the long run, in the context of a European reset, one has to discuss the issue of whether it is still appropriate to keep these countries with different economic structures and different economic performances together. There is no convergence anymore.

    “We have had divergence rather than convergence … from the very beginning.”

    • Andy
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Well as Greece is effectively bankrupt you can’t get blood out of a stone. So Germany will never see the bulk of the Target2 balances and they know it.

  43. mr catflap
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    There are clearly both assets and liabilities!

    What about the EU’s assets which we own? What about the UK’s stake in various EU institutions like bizarrely the ECB which the UK owns 13% of or €55bn’s worth.

    Seems like the author is suggesting walking away from the assets and liabilities.

    The college student analogy is clearly completely false.

  44. Alice Enders
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Surely there is a difference between the UK paying what it is required to pay in relation to unfunded pension liabilities accrued during the UK’s long stint as a member of the EU, and a one-off exit fee or a discretionary payment of some kind? You are suggesting the EU will require a payment from the UK for mean-spirited reasons rather than that the UK should have been prepared to accept that one of the costs of leaving the EU is to pay upfront for payments that would have had to made relating to the pensions the UK is legally obliged to contribute to. Is that a fair characterization?

  45. Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s not like leaving college though is it? More like being a member of a club at the bottom of the street, like say, a Conservative Club. Turning up with no membership and expecting to get the same privileges as the members, without paying anything. That’s not how it works is it John?

  46. Freeborn John
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    The Polish government is reported as expecting the UK to continue to make payments into the EU budget of €4bn a year and accept a status similar to Switzerland. I hope the UK government will make it clear that any payments into the EU budget, accepting the bulk of EU law and freedom of movement is totally unacceptable.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-poland-idUKKBN15G5CH?rpc=401&

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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