Many people who want us to stay in the EU also like higher levels of public spending and more government. That is why they support EU membership, as it brings both in a package UK voters cannot influence much and cannot control or veto. The large gross and net contribution to the EU budget is one of the reasons this country continues to live beyond its means and runs a large deficit.
It is one of the many cruel ironies of the EU that it takes too much of our money and spends it, whilst lecturing us and other EU states to cut our domestic budgets to keep our deficit down. In recent years the UK has simply ignored the requirement to have a deficit below 3% of GDP, but all the time we remain in the EU there is the possibility that the EU will take tougher measures to try to enforce its strict budget rules. Doubtless those who like the current EU agree with their approach to budget discipline.
The honest way to tackle this for those who do want to stay in on current terms would be to impose a tax to pay for our European contributions. The public would then see how much the EU costs each taxpayer and the deficit would get closer to the EU ceiling. As recent judgements on VAT, welfare and borders remind us, the EU regularly taunts the UK by its decisions. I therefore propose calling this new tax JEST – Joint European Solidarity Tax.
I know many pro EU people are good sports who sometimes pride themselves on having a better sense of humour than mine, so they will enjoy selling a good Jest to the British people to pay for the EU and to live by its fiscal rules. So bring on the Jesters. Tell us why we should pay this tax. You don’t have to pay a tax in order to be a customer of the rest of the world, so why do you do so with the EU? Why does the rest of the world trade with the EU without paying EU contributions?