Major problems with overseas aid for Eastern European countries

I was surprised to read in the Sunday press that some people think it a good idea to divert overseas aid to Eastern European members of the EU to “buy” a better  deal with that organisation.

As I have explained before, there is no Treaty power to require a UK leaving payment above and beyond completing our annual payments to their budget for the period of  our continuing membership. Nor is it legal under WTO rules to pay for more favoured trade with a particular country or group of countries than the rest. Payment for trade under WTO rules takes the form of accepting tariffs, and these have to be limited to the current mfn schedules the EU has agreed.

The trade choice is for the rest of the EU to make.  The Uk would be quite happy to carry on tariff free. That will help the rest of the EU more than us. It would mean registering our current trade arrangements as a Free Trade Agreement at the WTO. Or we can trade under mfn arrangements under the WTO. Most of UK trade will be tariff free, whilst EU sales of agricultural products would suffer heavy tariffs into the UK. The UK could agree lower or no tariffs with other cheaper suppliers of food around the world through the WTO process. I have  said it is in the EU’s interest to accept the tariff free offer, and they may  do so after much huffing and puffing.  I have also always said that they might decide to harm themselves by accepting WTO terms instead. Under the general WTO arrangements the UK will be fine.

The overseas aid  idea also falls well foul of the overseas aid rules. The Eastern countries in the EU do not qualify for overseas aid under the international definition, as they are too well off. UK Ministers  by law have to hit the 0.7% Aid target under international definitions, so they could not switch this aid money to Eastern Europe unless they repealed the 0.7% requirement. It would not be easy to achieve repeal, given the likely fact that all the opposition parties would oppose repeal other than perhaps the one UKIP MP. The government might be able to persuade  enough Conservative MPs to get it through the Commons, but the Lords would be likely to have a big majority the other way. As it would not be a Manifesto pledge, and does not stem directly from a referendum, the Lords might become  very difficult.

In circumstances where the EU Commision and one or two large countries were  not wanting a free trade Agreement with the UK for political despite their interests in having one, it is difficult to see how offering to send money to Eastern countries would buy a change of heart.




  1. Richard
    February 20, 2017

    “It would mean registering our current trade arrangements as a Free Trade Agreement at the WTO.”

    Our “current trade arrangements” include subjection to the jurisdiction of the European Court. So you are signing up to that! What an extraordinary volte-face!

    Reply Not so. WTO procedures replace ECJ!

    1. zorro
      February 20, 2017

      For information Richard, the ECJ doesn’t control the WTO….. I’m sure that it’s working on it.


    2. Ruchard
      February 20, 2017

      You literally do not know the first thing about free trade agreements. The WTO does not enforce them!

      1. Denis Cooper
        February 20, 2017

        Interesting question, but on a quick google it seems that you are wrong.

        “A perennial policy question is how the multilateral trading system is affected by the rise of preferential trading agreements (PTAs).”

        “A large number of disputes between PTA members are brought to
        the WTO dispute settlement system. On average, about 30 per cent
        of WTO disputes are between members who are parties to the same

      2. David Price
        February 20, 2017

        Are you referring to a dispute settlement mechanism? If so I thought that was a principle element of the WTO process (

        If not wouldn’t the mechanism have to be mutually agreeable in which case why would we ever pick a creature of the EU to resolve disputes?

    3. Denis Cooper
      February 20, 2017

      Can there not be the same trade arrangements on a different legal basis?

      At present we have a large volume of well-organised and easy trade with the other EU countries on the legal basis of the EU treaties and laws. We note that at present these trade arrangements lead to a massive trade imbalance in their favour, year after year, but we are not complaining about that chronic trade deficit or seeking to rectify it by reinstating previous protectionist barriers to trade, neither tariff or non-tariff barriers. Rather we are simply seeking as far as possible to continue with the present arrangements for trade but on a new legal basis, one which we will find more acceptable; it is some of the other governments who are insisting that unless we accept unrestricted immigration of their citizens into our country they will defy their international commitments by creating unnecessary barriers to trade.

      1. Richard
        February 20, 2017

        You can make that offer, yes.
        But, as you, but not Mr Redwood, grasp, it would require a different legal basis, so it is emphatically not the current arrangement

        1. Denis Cooper
          February 21, 2017

          Possibly it is exactly the current arrangement, in practical, operational, procedural, terms, just founded on a different legal basis. So the rules which applied when a business wished to export something from the Germany to the UK, say, could be the same rules as now, completely unchanged, but stemming from provisions in a PTA treaty rather than from provisions in the EU treaties.

      2. acorn
        February 20, 2017

        Denis, I have increasingly poor odds of getting past what goes for moderation on this site, now real facts are screwing the wheels off the £350 million a week for the NHS, big red bus; but, here goes.

        The UK currently has circa 2.4% of world trade, including the 27 EU states. The EU has circa 17% not including the UK. Now, who do you think has the biggest influence at the WTO? Who’s Brexit WTO Commitment Schedules, are going to get “consensus” from the 163 other WTO members first, the reduced EU, which is still the EU or the seceding UK?

        A number of those WTO members have territorial disputes with the UK. Spain (Gibraltar) and Argentina (Falklands), to name but two. You only need one objector for WTO “consensus” to fail. (WTO does note have votes.)

        It is worth going back to read “Brexit or Britin: is it really colder outside?” Jean-Claude Piris 2015. He was the EU’s drafter of treaties.

        Reply You often write long pieces which I do not have time to moderate. You do not understand WTO procedures. A country can only object to a particular tariff line if it makes their position worse. Objecting to a particular tariff line does not invalidate the whole tariff schedule. The UK would start off with the same schedule as the rest of the EU, only we would use if for EU countries as well as for non EU countries as at present. The rest of the EU would of course have consented to making their trading worse – otherwise they can accept tariff free as we are offering!

        1. Denis Cooper
          February 21, 2017

          “You only need one objector for WTO “consensus” to fail”

          But without actually preventing those who do not object continuing their two-way trade with the country in question.

          You may not be aware that the EU and its 28 member states do not yet have any finalised WTO schedules, they are still stuck where they were back in early 2004 when the EU had only 15 member states.

          Has that technicality brought their trade to a standstill?

          The WTO is there to promote and facilitate international trade.

          It is not there to set irrational rules which will unnecessarily impede trade under some circumstances, and if that would actually happen through the strict application of some rule or other – a rule which Remainers may refer to, but usually without citing chapter and verse to back up their claim – then a blind eye will be turned to that rule.

          1. acorn
            February 23, 2017

            To cut a long debate short on this site. Can I just pose the following question please. What will the UK do about agricultural subsidies when we disconnect from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)?

            The WTO is a neo-liberal organisation. It abhors subsidies to labour wages and environmental defences; they distort “free” trade. It hates the CAP but can’t touch it. The EU is too big and too powerful for the WTO to take on.

            Outside the CAP, Mrs May is hinting there will be UK CAP type subsidies. India and a few others are saying they will object to such domestic subsidies depressing the price of their agri’ exports to the UK. What ya gonna do???

            PS. TPP; TTIP and ASEAN, would have made the WTO redundant. Trumpism may yet make it redundant if the whole world goes bilateral. Fun Times ahead!!!

    4. Peter D Gardner
      February 22, 2017

      What are you talking about? “Current trading arrangements” refers to trade itself. What you mean is regulation of the single market. Obviously an agreement would be required to implement free trade but the ECJ would have no jurisdiction over UK. It would over the single market and whether imported goods and services infringe EU law but is an entirely different matter. It would not necessarily, for example be able to say company X may not export to EU states because its conditions of employment do not comply with EU law. Whether that is acceptable to the EU would be specified in the Free Trade Agreement and is the purpose of establishing agreement on principles such as “equivalence’ or mutual recognition of standards. It would be entirely up to UK companies whether they decide to export particular services and goods to the EU or not.

  2. Iain Gill
    February 20, 2017

    I’ve been in some eastern European cities and they are doing better than anywhere in the UK. Hardly surprising given the way multi nationals can move there with big perks.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      February 20, 2017

      Dear Iain–Utter madness–I can only think this is being pushed by people who sell to Eastern Europe and would thereby benefit

    2. Mitchel
      February 20, 2017

      …and not insignificant EU-funded infrastructure investment.

  3. Peter Wood
    February 20, 2017

    Good Morning,

    The overseas aid budget of 0.7% of GDP is monstrous; frankly we are a laughing stock because of ‘some of the ‘needy’ aid projects we fund. We should remember, the UK government, us, has to borrow the money it gives away!

    PLEASE propose an amendment to this obligation such that the any overseas aid can only be made from a national budget surplus in the year in which it is paid.

    1. alan jutson
      February 20, 2017


      Why not scrap Foreign aid completely and leave the Great UK public to donate where they want with their own money to foreign aid projects/natural disasters

      Then we can sack a whole department and start saving some real money.

      That then will leave 0.7% of our GDP to be spent on rather more worthy causes at home, unless of course they want to give us a tax break of some sort, which is rather unlikely.

      1. hefner
        February 20, 2017

        Because Foreign Aid was/is also used to help British firms (BAE) win contracts. Do you really expect individual donations to compare with the kind of money involved in these contracts?

        Please get a bit more informed.

        1. getahead
          February 20, 2017

          BAe Systems doesn’t need Foreign Aid. It can afford its own bribes.

    2. Timaction
      February 20, 2017

      Only UKIP oppose the 0.7% overseas aid target! All other legacy parties and the Lords support it. Goes to show how out of touch all the legacies and Lords are. We have an older population and can’t fund their social care, an NHS in England that is near collapse BUT with a massive budget deficit still to overcome we can throw away £1,000,000,000 a month in aid to foreign Countries. Lets have an election shall we?

      1. fedupsoutherner
        February 20, 2017

        Timeaction. I agree with your comments. Bring on an election and stop the wasted money on foreign aid. It is disgusting that we don’t look after our own people first before others especially when much of the money ends up in the pockets of despots.

        1. fedupsoutherner
          February 21, 2017

          Sorry Hefner. There are plenty of examples of how money is ill spent abroad. I resent paying for foreigners first and for country’s that are rich enough to spend money on space travel and nuclear when our elderly (my mother included) are suffering and not getting the attention they deserve. It is our money and our taxes being sent abroad while we watch our loved ones and friends lose out. Our NHS is struggling and one day this could be us.

      2. graham1946
        February 20, 2017

        Trouble is, the ‘Government’ always gets in and so nothing changes, especially as none of them will make it a manifesto commitment despite some of them lately deciding the have to ‘represent their electorate’ when it comes to talking down Brexit and the country, but never something like this. It’s an ego trip on other peoples’ money and they just love to feel pious, especially when travelling abroad.

      3. hefner
        February 20, 2017

        Not really true! Please read 12/01/2017 How is the £12bn foreign aid budget spent?

        1. fedupsoutherner
          February 21, 2017

          Hefner. Quote from Priti Patel

          British taxpayers’ money is being wasted on “superficial” foreign aid projects by some of the world’s biggest international bodies, Priti Patel has warned.

          We cannot afford to waste money like this when our health service is struggling.

  4. Brexit
    February 20, 2017

    Dr Redwood, once again you make the point about a ‘divorce settlement’ very clearly. There is no case for any payment to be made by the UK to the EU.

    You say: “The UK would be quite happy to carry on tariff free. That will help the rest of the EU more than us.”
    Your readers may be interested in the research we published on this last week, which shows that the UK’s trade imbalance with the EU was £94 billion last year, based on latest official figures. Germany alone benefited from £31.6 billion of this.

    We’re not optimistic that when it comes to the negotiations the EU elites will operate with their heads rather than with their political ideologies, but two things are clear :-
    1. The peoples of the EU27 have a lot to lose if their politicians adopt an ideological stance and reject the UK’s offer of tariff-free trade, and
    2. The UK will do very well even if we have to adopt WTO arrangements.

    The link to our two research articles is here:
    Regards, the Brexit Facts4EU.Org Team

    1. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2017

      There was no case for the UK making any contributions to the Euro bail outs, but the UK did on several occasions. It is not the politicians money so what did they care?

      So much easier to be “kind” when using someone else’s money.

  5. Prigger
    February 20, 2017

    Remainers and their Fake News media put the cart before the horse. Badly educated!

    Article 50 has not been sent. They need reminding ongoing what Article 50 indicates.Chats by Remainers of future negotiations are interesting. They may have chats about what tie they could decide to wear in several months time. It is hard for them to focus on the present.

  6. Roy Grainger
    February 20, 2017

    You seem to be alone in assuming there will be no “divorce payment” from the EU, to me it seems this has already been accepted and the argument is only over how much.

    1. Mactheknife
      February 20, 2017

      The article clearly states that we will be liable for some payments within a certain time frame whilst we hold membership or to complete our obligations, but not “divorce payments” on the scale currently bandied around by the EU elites.

  7. alan jutson
    February 20, 2017

    Agree John, I was disturbed to read the very same article in the newspapers.

    What is it with journalists and many MP’s who think we have to simply pay out all of the time !

    I think you have answered your own question with a solution on the foreign aid budget farce, for that is what it has now become, even though Priti Patel promised a re think when given her new position.
    Simply ask the people in a referendum if it should continue as present, indeed should we have a fixed sum/percentage at all.

    Why on earth are we pouring money into foreign Countries which have space programmes and a growth rate larger than our own, and at the same time leaving our ex servicemen and women sleeping on the streets, or our own needy citizens short of benefit support and healthcare.

    As I posted last week the UK public are very, very generous when it comes to funding foreign aid for natural disasters out of their own pockets, we do not want in addition government taking more of our money to fund overseas pop groups, for topping up thousands of foreign credit cards, or funding unusable airports and the like, when it could be better spent here.

  8. Juliet
    February 20, 2017

    Why on earth would UK need to divert overseas aid to Eastern European members of the EU to “buy” a better deal with the EU?

    Most absurd thing ever and annoying, plus a total mis-use of what foreign is used for.

    What this is saying because the UK is curbing EU migration and main beneficiaries at the current time are EU10 countries who will no longer be able to move under the freedom of movement rules and will experience a restriction in low-skilled and unskilled people moving to the UK. The UK should compensate / subsidise these countries with foreign aid; even though EU10 countries are in mainland Europe not overseas, and UK already has a high influx of people in UK from EU10 in low-skilled and unskilled work that pay little to no taxes

    I hardly think EU10 are in need for foreign aid. Reinvest foreign aid in our infrastructure, social care, NHS.

    Is the UK now responsible for EU countries that have weak economies as well as paying the cumulative large membership fees

  9. zorro
    February 20, 2017

    Indeed, some of these blessed intellectuals seem keen to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They really couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag.


    1. Leslie Singleton
      February 20, 2017

      Dear Zorro–WET paper bag

    2. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2017

      Indeed and they are largely still in command.

  10. Bert Young
    February 20, 2017

    Looking at the costs of care for the elderly in this country I wonder that we decide to spend so much in foreign aid anyway . Local authorities claim they can only assist in such care providing they make cuts to other vital services ; frankly this is unacceptable .

    Our deal with the EU is very straightforward ; we do not need to buy our trading future relationship with them . They have a simple choice to make and they will suffer the most . The Blairs and Mandelsons – who are desperate to carve a role for themselves, can bleat all they want , they can not change the trade facts and they have no right to try to tell the public that they did not know what they were voting for .

    The Lords can debate what they want and delay proceedings , but , Brexit will return to the Commons and it will be voted through . The days and relevance of the Lords are numbered ; it is no longer regarded for its wisdom and overview ; it is a defunct mechanism in today’s society .

  11. Denis Cooper
    February 20, 2017

    “The Eastern countries in the EU do not qualify for overseas aid under the international definition, as they are too well off.”

    Well, that is an interesting point, given that at present we are indirectly providing them with aid in the form of subventions from the EU budget; and even if we left the EU but stayed in the EEA we would probably be expected to continue to provide the poorer countries with grants on a bilateral basis, which is what Norway does.

  12. Stephen Berry
    February 20, 2017

    If we are looking purely at our economic relationship with the states that comprise the EU then it would be best to end all cooperation with Brussels – including sending them money. There would be no negotiations over trade. Free trade should simply be allowed by the UK, even if the EU were foolish enough to restrict it on their side. At the same time we could declare free trade with the rest of the world. That would be the best economic choice for the UK.

    It’s all about politics and this silly stuff on ‘overseas aid’ for Eastern European countries shows it. I suspect that the British government’s position will be that present trading arrangements should continue in return for a small payment to the EU. The UK, of course, will no longer wish to be subject to the ECJ, able to control immigration, and recover agricultural and fishing rights.

    If there is no deal, Mrs May will wish to be seen as the party who tried the damnedest to succeed. This is important both for UK internal politics and how the world views the matter. But will the EU deal roughly on these terms? That is the question.

    1. James neill
      February 20, 2017 the end it is likely there will be no deal with the eu but it won’t rebound on theresa may for after all she will only be carrying out the wishes of the british electorate and in any case hasn’t she got her best ministers out there looking for new trade deals so what can go wrong?

    2. graham1946
      February 20, 2017

      I agree and this is what Professor Minford has been espousing for years, but we don’t listen to people with reasoned ideas, only the zealots. We don’t need the EU or the WTO and could immediately control dumping such as we were not allowed to do with Chinese steel last year. Our people would receive an immediate boost to their disposable incomes, food prices would drop 20 percent and countries worldwide would be queuing up to do business with us. However, I expect a fudge and we will continue to pay for the EU to sell to us.

  13. stred
    February 20, 2017

    Sometimes it is hard to believe the government’s actions. When I read that the MoD was spending millions on a department dealing with claims against servicemen, I presumed this was to help fend off the dishonest lawyers. It turned out that they were joining in the persecution and backing the lawyers. Yet no ministers have even offered an apology.

    When we voted to leave the EU, I thought we would soon be saving those wasted contributions. Now civil servants and ministers are thinking of sending aid to Hungary to help them take Merkel’s guests. While EU leaders are dreaming up leaving fees in multi billions as an exit fee. I could understand them wanting payments if we were daft enough to want to become a member. But we are leaving and they are lucky that we don’t just leave and ask them what they are going to do about it. Are they going to invade or seizing property when we have more of theirs?

    And as for sending foreign aid to countries that have their own aid programmes and say they don’t want ours, France and Germany don’t send the percentage demanded by the UN but we make this compulsary by law. Our leaders and civil servants really cannot understand how much resentment this creates when they waste taxes while increasing them.

  14. Denis Cooper
    February 20, 2017

    “Nor is it legal under WTO rules to pay for more favoured trade with a particular country or group of countries than the rest.”

    But it would be legal to compensate a country for the withdrawal of future immigration rights from its citizens, close to unrestricted rights which have been freely granted by the UK government and Parliament to the citizens of the other EU countries in perpetuity, the exercise of which rights since granted now providing their economies with a total of £7 billion a year according to what you write here, JR:

    “… £7bn of annual remittances by EU citizens living in the UK but sending money back to their home countries from good jobs here.”

    I’m not saying that it would be desirable to do that, or that there would be any legal requirement to do it – we certainly didn’t do it when we reintroduced restrictions on immigration from the Commonwealth countries – but that it would be legal.

    As with the misnamed “divorce bill” I suggest that the UK government should say that it accepts no legal liability, but would be prepared to negotiate a deal as a demonstration of its goodwill towards the peoples of the other EU countries.

    Whether any such willingness should be signalled through the pages of the Sunday Times before negotiations have even begun is another matter.

  15. Lifelogic
    February 20, 2017

    The Lords might become very difficult indeed and not just over this. The make up of the Lords is hugely out of touch with reality and the needs, views and interests of the people the “represent”.

    There is a huge left wing, pro EU, big tax for others, religious, arts graduates and anti real science bias.

    I suppose being able to pick up £300 a day (tax free) just for turning up at the subsidised club and having a subsidised lunch tends to help keep them out of touch with reality.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 20, 2017

      A selection of the public by lottery (with perhaps an IQ test to pass) would produce a far better and more representative second house. Anyone who actively seeks to be a politician has generally shown themselves to be totally unsuitable.

      1. Stephen Berry
        February 20, 2017

        Yes Lifelogic, it would be an excellent idea to choose the second house by lottery and there should be no IQ test. But why stop there? I have long been sympathetic to the idea of sortition as practised by the ancient Greeks. Is it not even more important that the House of Commons be chosen by lot?

        That way, many of the problems of modern democracy would disappear. No political class, everybody gets an equal chance to be a ruler and all this stuff about the under-representation of women, ethnic minorities, etc. solved at a stroke.

        Of course, with totally new rulers every five years, we are going to need a much smaller state. What’s not to like?

      2. Denis Cooper
        February 20, 2017

        We have had many years of debate on how to reform the House of Lords, and no doubt there will be many more years of debate before anything happens about its composition, but it would be a simple matter to draw its teeth and so limit the damage it can do by cutting the period for which they can delay a Bill from the present thirteen months to just three months.

  16. Ex-expat Colin
    February 20, 2017

    Yes, repeal it and base it on merit, not filling Benz and BMW order books.

    Trump got the spotlight on Sweden alright…media low on that of course, still howling like hell though.

  17. margaret
    February 20, 2017

    Its a farce really … Tariffs are supposed to be applied to stabilise competition , so what is the point of trying to produce quality cheaper goods if it is to be balanced against other products . No point in giving that extra mile in production ……

  18. Jack snell
    February 20, 2017

    We are going to have to pay whether we like it or not and that is the reality. There is no point in saying we can extract ourelves from the biggest economic club on the planet with all the disruption and headache that that is going to cause and then to think there will be no penalty. It is also foohardy to think that we can then waltz in again and trade with any of the 27 remaining members of the bloc that suits us on our own terms and without’s just not going to happen.. so we had better waken up

    1. Roy Grainger
      February 20, 2017

      And therefore also foolhardy of the 27 to think they can keep running a massive trading surplus with UK ?

    2. Graham Wood
      February 20, 2017

      “We are going to have to pay whether we like it or not and that is the reality.”

      Why? Where is such a stipulation in any EU/UK treaty please? In any event we have “paid” over and over again as we are net contributors to the wasteful EU budget

      1. Jack snell
        February 20, 2017

        Answer to graham wood,

        Because graham when the time comes that we want to do a deal with france for instance to import wines..its likely spain will object. The same way if we want to do a deal with germany over some other produce then some other country in the eu will object.. and thats going to be a big problem for us. The fact that we paid into the budget in the past as net contributers will not even count or be remembered in the future and thats the reality.. what we are embarking on now with brexit will be a disaster for britain and i believe might even lead to the eventual breakup of the uk. Sorry to have to say it like this..

  19. Nig l
    February 20, 2017

    What is often overlooked is the vast amount that people from poorer countries send home with people from the old eastern bloc being no exception. We should make an assessment of that value and treat it as part of our foreign aid contribution meaning that the actual budget could be reduced by that amount.

    There has been much made for the need to recognise the democratic vote re Brexit but somehow our arrogant ruling elite feel able to ignore the fact that there seems to be a vast groundswell of public opinion against the size of our Aid contribution. Selective democracy?
    Shurely shome misshtake as they would say in the Private Eye!

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 20, 2017

      £7 billion a year sent home by citizens of the other EU countries, JR said previously at the link I gave above.

  20. MickN
    February 20, 2017

    OT I see Tony Blair is suggesting that remoaners “rise up” against Brexit.
    Wasn’t he the one who wanted to take us into the Euro that is causing so much damage to Southern European countries? Oh and wasn’t he the “Middle East Peace Envoy”? How did that work out ?

    1. Duyfken
      February 20, 2017

      You would think his education at Fettes would have guided Blair to a better use of our language. In what other way can one “rise”?

    2. Anonymous
      February 20, 2017

      According to the recent MP vote on Art 50 only 8% of the population agree with opposing the Leave result. Blair is fomenting insurrection and is trying to subvert democracy.

  21. Mitchel
    February 20, 2017

    Another reason,I would suggest,is geopolitical-the West wishes to keep some of these countries from gravitating to Russia and buying their loyalty is seen as the best way.If EU transfers to the east are cut back sharply when our payments drop away(and replacement funding is unlikely to be forthcoming),how loyal will some of them remain?

  22. Stuart Saint
    February 20, 2017

    Bribing E European States is a foolish idea. Free Trade as a default is the best option.

    The DfID BUDGET should be halved and the money spent on UK Care to relieve the bed logjam and make the NHS budget go further.

    I have recently seen one academic claiming that WTO mfn will be a minefield of negotiation and would greatly value your opinion on the ease or otherwise of the WTO process for the UK post Brexit.

  23. Mark
    February 20, 2017

    I don’t think that the Parliamentary briefing papers are doing a proper job of informing MPs. I looked at this one:

    which covers the UK’s contributions to the EU budget and discusses UK payments to the EU on and after exit. Repeatedly, it fails to make clear that the post exit obligations under the Treaties are close to non-existent, allowing credibility for the Barnier/Juncker exit bill to build up in their minds. It does state (p 13):

    According to the Prime Minister, the UK may pay to participate in some EU programmes. However, the PM expects the UK to leave the EU’s single market and not make contributions to poorer Member States in exchange for such preferential access:

    which surely precludes using the aid budget for the same purpose. Perhaps of more concern is:

    It is worth re-iterating that the rebate is taken off the UK’s contribution a year in arrears. This means that when the UK makes its final contribution as a Member State it should expect a rebate payment the following year. The rebate may be used to reduce any ‘divorce bill’.

    I’ve not yet managed to check what the precise rules on the rebate are, and whether it is true that the payment would survive exit.

    Reply Parliamentary research papers are just that. They are not government publications, and they depend on access to official published documents and the line taken by the researcher, who has to try to show he or she is impartial on very partisan topics.

    1. Mark
      February 20, 2017

      I was surprised the Supreme Court seemed to rely on the Parliamentary research paper that claimed that the referendum was purely advisory, before the bill enacting it had even been passed through Parliament, and ignoring the words of ministers during the debate making it clear that the government was treating the referendum as an instruction from the electorate. In the same vein, I had a go at correcting the misleading impression conveyed by the paper discussing Article 50:

      which erroneously talks of a time limit on negotiations when there is none. I did get a response from the research unit – “They will amend the numbering error in the paper that you pointed out, and would like to thank you for your interesting observations, which they have noted.” The revised version still hasn’t transcribed Article 50 clearly

      and it still refers to the non-existent negotiating deadline.

      1. Denis Cooper
        February 21, 2017

        The young lady who wrote that House of Commons Library briefing should be proud, she was treated as a constitutional authority on a par with Dicey!

    2. Denis Cooper
      February 20, 2017

      “It is worth re-iterating that the rebate is taken off the UK’s contribution a year in arrears.”

      Mostly it’s a year, but the final small details may not be settled for some more years afterwards. That’s why those like Andrew Tyrie MP who claim that the rebate is taken off the UK’s gross contribution for that year before it is paid to Brussels are incorrect; in fact the gross contribution for Year X is paid in full in Year X, while at the same time the initially calculated rebate for Year X -1 is paid in the opposite direction, plus any small corrections for Years X – 2, 3, 4 ….

  24. Tad Davison
    February 20, 2017

    I’m just amazed that there are people in positions of power and influence who can actually dream up such nonsense in the first place. It amounts to bribery.

    The paragraph in the Brexit Facts post,

    ‘Your readers may be interested in the research we published on this last week, which shows that the UK’s trade imbalance with the EU was £94 billion last year, based on latest official figures. Germany alone benefited from £31.6 billion of this.’

    ought to be broadcast right across the BBC, Channel 4 News, and Sky News, as they have a fundamental duty to carry honest, impartial stories that enlighten the very public they are supposed to serve.

    Tad Davison


    1. Roy Grainger
      February 20, 2017

      Indeed. Germany has the biggest trading surplus in the world, bigger than China. Unfortunately for them Trump is aware of this.

    2. Martyn G
      February 20, 2017

      Oh dear, Tad. Would that it be so but suggest that one does not hold one’s breath on the BBC and much of the media ever carrying honest, impartial, enlightening stories or news.
      For example, the BBC today carried much news about how many millions of £ and driving hours wasted in these enlightened days, the ensuing pollution problems and so on, hinting that it was somehow all our fault, without once mentioning that it might be because of the hugely increased number of people in this nation following the Blairite deliberate open door policies to get at the ethnic people of this nation that he so clearly despised.
      Still, all is not yet lost, someone has opened Pandora’s box and let him out again to save us all from from our misplaced, stupid, biased, jingoistic points of view……

  25. English Pensioner
    February 20, 2017

    Can’t part of the foreign aid budget be used to cover the cost of all non-EU citizens who come here to use the NHS?
    After all, paying the NHS from the aid budget for a Nigerian woman to have her children in an NHS hospital is a form of aid to Nigeria which no longer has to cover the cost.

  26. Denis Cooper
    February 20, 2017

    Rather off-topic:

    “‘That bus has gone’ – EU sees no Brexit U-turn now”

    “Yet whatever their hopes of legal obstacles or of an electoral backlash, the mood across the rest of the bloc has shifted away. While officially the door remains open to Britain to stay, many on the continent would not welcome a U-turn now.

    “This bus has left,” said one senior EU diplomat.

    “No one is happy about it. But we have moved on and the last thing anyone wants now is to reopen the whole issue.””

    And so too have British voters moved on, with 68% wanting the government to just get on and start the process of leaving and only 15% disagreeing:

    Notably, even in the most pro-EU age group, the 18 -24 year olds, opinion has now moved from a roughly even split to 53% being in favour of the government moving ahead, with only 20% still disagreeing.

    One interesting point from that Reuters article:

    “May argues her letter will be legally irrevocable. Many EU officials believe the process could be halted — as long as most, or perhaps all, the other 27 states agreed to that. But it is that political will which now seems to be in question.”

    “One long-time senior EU official said few would ultimately want to snub Britain if it had a change of heart: “But,” the person said, “The EU could want to impose some conditions, limiting the special status it has enjoyed in so many areas.””

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 20, 2017

      “… opinion has now moved from a roughly even split in December …”

    2. Denis Cooper
      February 20, 2017

      I’ve just been listening to a succession of pompous self-regarding and hypocritical unelected legislators-for-life falsely claiming that the population of this country is still deeply divided, 52% to 48% as in the referendum. But that is not the case: removing from consideration the 17% of the sample in the ICM poll who expressed no view, it is now 82% wanting the government to get on with it while only 18% disagree.

      1. zorro
        February 20, 2017

        Indeed, they fail to realise the following….. 52% actively voted to leave the EU in the face of an overwhelming onslaught by the establishment and the powers that be to cajole/bully/threaten them and their children with almost death/destruction if they voted leave…..

        48% voted Remain…. a lot of those were the weaker brethren who held their noses but lacked the courage to challenge the status quo and meekly voted for the doomsayers…… How many actively wanted to remain…? A lot less than 48% I would argue……


      2. Lifelogic
        February 21, 2017

        Indeed without the sloped pitch, the BBC bias, the Osborne threats of a “punishment” budget, the blatant dishonestly from Cameron, Carney and (you have control of your borders in the EU through Schengen) Theresa May and most of the state sector bias, the tax payer funded leaflet of lies and the rest it would have been more like two to one for leave.

        Probably even more than that now.

  27. Antisthenes
    February 20, 2017

    The amount of speculation about the consequences of Brexit and what obligations the UK is under during and post the negotiations to leave are staggering. Pundits are falling over themselves to make the most dire predictions and proffer advice. Which if believed and followed will as past experience of these pundits tells us will end in catastrophic failure. This speculation is because of the complexity surrounding being a EU member and the problems associated with terminating that membership. That is of course what those pundits are claiming which on the face of it is perfectly true but in reality does not have to be as you have pointed out.

    As long as the myth that the UK’s membership of the single market is paramount is dispelled and the supremacy of the UK’s position accepted. Coupled with a rational not hysterical approach to the outrageous restitution demands and the retaliatory threats of the EU then Brexit will not be complicated at all. The detail maybe but you have a solution for that by incorporating much of EU law into UK law and allow time and circumstances deal with it.

  28. Anonymous
    February 20, 2017

    Top billing in the news today ? Council tax rises with services cut (whilst they build new estates and the local population booms.) All the fault of old people, according to the BBC. Voters will never understand the overseas aid commitment whilst we are suffering shortages ourselves, especially to countries with nuclear power and space programmes.

  29. Richard Molyneux
    February 20, 2017

    It was interesting to hear Donald Trump speaking about the cost of replacing Air Force one and the F35 Fighter. He spoke as a businessman. Perhaps it would be helpful if he were asked to negotiate deals on behalf of our NHS. The NHS has a monopoly and is in a most powerful position yet is seems that it is not using this power to its own advantage. Clearly the management has no commercial acumen. I suppose they are spending other peoples money so it doesn’t matter.

  30. Dennis
    February 20, 2017

    That the UK would be happy to trade tariff free etc I have never heard expressed on the BBC – did I miss it?

  31. Dennis
    February 20, 2017

    The BBC has for a year or more always discussed the downsides of the UK leaving the EU but never it seems the dowsides of remaining – did I miss it?

  32. Original Richard
    February 20, 2017

    Given that most of our £10bn/year net contribution to the EU goes to eastern European members, this idea seems to be just another way for the EU/UK remainers to keep us making payments to the EU.

    In addition to the fact that such payments “to buy a better deal” would look like bribery or Danegeld it would open us up to paying increasing amounts to fund the EU’s intended expansion eastwards to include Abania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine and, all the “stan” countries as outlined by Mr. Cameron in his “Atlantic to the Urals” speech in Kazakhstan July 2013.

    Since we have huge trading and migration deficits with the EU there is no reason for us to pay the EU to leave or to gain access to their market.

  33. ian
    February 20, 2017

    Just kidding about 40% to 60 percent, most it will go 26 per cent on the s&p.

    1. Jack snell
      February 20, 2017

      Ian, is that fake news?

  34. Tom William
    February 20, 2017

    It is hard to believe that as long ago as 2012 the Indian Finance Minister said India did not want or need British aid but DFID implored him to keep it. Now we see their High Commisioner in London saying basically the same.

    I am sure “Yes Minister” could have written something similar.

  35. graham1946
    February 20, 2017

    Since Cameron’s nonsensical rise in the Aid budget, I no longer feel guilty about stopping my contributions to charities abroad as the government have taken it upon itself to do it for me. Anytime any of them ring me up now, I suggest they ring the Prime Minister’s office as they have (my) money to burn. I concentrate on home charities now.

  36. Freeborn John
    February 20, 2017

    Given that an FTA covering just goods and services would be primarily in the interests of the EU27, I do hope you will urge the UK government to only agree to comprehensive FTA that also gives us something in return, such as removal of non-tariff barriers to UK service exports. Even in that case, the UK government must make clear that migrants from the EU will be subject to the same immigration system and terms as non-EU migrants, there will be no post-Brexit UK contributions to the EU budget, and that EU law & the jurisdiction of the ECJ will cease completely in the UK. The EU appears to be demanding a £60bn exit payment supposedly due to 2014-2020 budgetary commitments that the Uk has agreed to. Yet no other country appears to have to settle its account for the 2014-2020 budget period. The UK has paid more than its fair share for EU assets such as property in Brussels, EU embassies around the world and Grand Projet such as the Galleleo Sateliite System. The UK must receive its share of these assets back.

    The greatest danger however would be appear to be a transitional EU deal that leaves us effectively in the EU until the next general election. The UK government has to have Brexit signed, sealed and delivered (including on WTO terms) by 2019 with some early FTAs in place with the USA and others before the next election. It is quite possible that the current US president will only be in place for a single term, and from 2020 we may be ‘at the back of the queue’ again for a UK-US FTA unless we seize the window of opportunity between 2019 & 2020 to ratify that trade deal. This should be the prize which drives the Brexit timetable meaning we have to be out of the customs union by 2019 and able to sign our own trade deals. It is clear the EU intends to use the 2017-2019 period mainly to try to extract £60bn from us and use a transitional deal to delay any substantive future trade talks past the next UK and US elections. There needs to be a sense of urgency in Whitehall if we are to make the most of our opportunities.

  37. forthurst
    February 20, 2017

    What you may also have read is that such funds as would be diverted to bribing Eastern European nations would be from ‘questionable’ projects in Asia And Africa; in other words, Ministers are admitting that such monies are now no more than virtue signalling at tax payers’ expense.

    In other news, Theresa May is negotiating a trade deal with India which for some extraordinary reason would include free movement; has this woman been briefed on the size of the Indian population and the rate at which it has been increasing, perchance?

  38. DaveM
    February 20, 2017

    We need more money for the NHS, Defence, transport, social care, new homes, investment in industry.

    We are giving away 0.7% of GDP on “foreign aid”. We are giving away God-knows-how-much on supplementary aid to the Middle East, where there are countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We are dishing £350m a month to the EU. We are financing lazy people’s lifestyles whilst topping up the wages of foreigners doing underpaid jobs. We are sending Child Benefit to foreign countries. We are financing infrastructure in France to keep out illegal immigrants.


  39. ian
    February 20, 2017

    So who in government telling the media they going to pay eastern european countries.

  40. Spinflight
    February 20, 2017

    We have 6 weeks to renounce the 1964 London Convention on Fisheries or else our fishing grounds will continue to be plundered post Brexit.

    “previous agreements in force before entering the EEC in 1973, such as the London Convention 1964, will still apply.

    Consequently, continuing the London Convention will allow “back door” access to the sea area between 6 and 12 miles around the UK.

    This would squander the chance to regain all control of our rich fishing resources whilst allowing legal challenge from the EU for continued rights.”

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 21, 2017

      Thanks. But presumably we could still renounce the Convention later on, it would just mean that it would not take effect immediately when we left the EU?

  41. Bob
    February 20, 2017

    Small high street shops are closing down due to outrageous increases to busines rates, in order to fund social care which should be covered by the outrageous anounts of tax currently pouring in to HM Treasury.

    Foreign aid should be for emergencies only. This bleeding heart virtue signalling largess cannot continue. The current govt would increase it’s popularity by dealing with this Cameron/Clegg folly.

    Any party voting to continue with it would pay the price at the General Election.

  42. Lindsay McDougall
    February 20, 2017

    For the reasons you give, this is a non-issue. In what circumstances do we need to make net payments to the EC – at the rate of about £15 billion per annum – beyond 31st March 2019?

    One possibility is that we have an obligation with regard to that portion of the pensions of EU employees earned before our departure. If so, the calculation should be straightforward and we could pay as we go, the annual amount decreasing as these people die off.

    The second possiblity is that it may be worth making an additional payment in order to leave the EU early so that we may implement trade deals with, say, the US and Australia early. What would the gain to the UK be of leaving a year early?

  43. agricola
    February 20, 2017

    I have been giving some thought to the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit. In their favour is that the majority are in employment and contributing to the UK economy. There are a few vagrants, beggars, and criminals who should be shown the door. Of those in employment, ask yourselves who could replace them. Seemingly none existent UK workers or migrants from other than EU sources.

    The question that the H o Ls have been debating today is the security of residence of EU citizens in the UK. Given that we cannot do without them, an offer of absolute security for their future would put EU countries on the moral back foot, were they to contemplate making life difficult for UK citizens in the EU. I think it is a step we could take at no loss to our economy or our position on the moral high ground. It would also demonstrate our superior interpretation of democracy here in the UK. Using EU citizens as a negotiating pawn devalues our democratic status in the World, so I hope our politicians are not tempted.

    1. Original Richard
      February 22, 2017

      Mrs. May is quite right to not make any unilateral decisions on the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK, particularly as there are even calls for EU citizens to be given the full rights of UK citizens.

      As you have already mentioned we should regain the ability to remove EU “vagrants, beggars and criminals”.

      Although it would be both morally wrong and economic suicide to request all EU citizens to leave the UK this does not mean that we should further extend resident EU citizens’ rights to include voting rights or rights to increased social or healthcare for them and their extended families.

      There is a world of difference between work permits where required by UK businesses, such as seasonal work permits for agriculture, and uncontrolled immigration where EU citizens are to be treated in all aspects as if they were citizens of the UK.

      So negotiation with the EU is necessary.

  44. Monty
    February 21, 2017

    Whole notion would be a non-starter anyway.
    We are not going to be negotiating any post Brexit deal with any national governments. Why would we waste our time? Those eastern states are EU captives, they have no clout. We will be negotiating with Brussels placemen who care nothing for any European national special interests. They are perfectly happy to see Greek pensioners eating out of dumpsters.

    When we leave, we have much to look forward to. They have all the problems they had yesterday and a significant drop in revenue.

  45. Mick
    February 21, 2017
    Is this The overseas aid your going on about ??, who do these Europeans think they are, we need the money in OUR country for OUR people and not to help fun the failing eu, just tell them we’re leaving asap and they can coco for any funding when we leave??

  46. Original Richard
    February 21, 2017

    Mr Blair met with Mr. Juncker last month and Mr. Blair’s speech last week was the result.

    Their strategy is for the EU to make the leaving terms so unpalatable that Mr. Blair will insist that Parliament rejects Brexit forthwith, or, if absolutely necessary, put the offer to the UK in a second referendum.

    Mrs. May appears to have understood this game plan as she has already said that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

    But the government will need to do more to make the electorate understand that trading with the EU under WTO terms is not a disaster and in fact since we have a trading deficit of £100bn/year with the EU WTO terms will even be to our advantage.

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