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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Theresa May must reject the EU’s attempts to hold Britain back after Brexit

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A few days ago staff from a relatively unknown European Parliament committee called TAX3 met with the European Commission’s Brexit Task Force (BTF), led by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

According to the minutes which I’ve been shown, the purpose of this meeting was to discuss the EU’s alleged “mandate” to create a “level playing field” when it comes to future relations with Britain in four main areas, one of which is tax.

The minutes show that the BTF rubbished Theresa May’s Chequers plan over tax. Indeed, noting that the Chequers proposal omits even to mention tax, the BTF described it arrogantly as a “wishful thinking” document and said it is “not feasible that [it] will not include taxation provisions.”

I have made clear my opposition to the Chequers proposal many times. On this occasion, however, this wretched document can at least be said to have served a useful purpose. For, thanks to these minutes, it’s clear what Barnier and his team are up to. They want to stop Britain diverging from the EU on tax in order to lessen the prospect of our having any competitive advantage over the EU after Brexit. The name of the game is to prevent the UK from using its new-found freedom to attract business. 

From this, it is clear that the EU wants to achieve two things. First, it wants to limit opportunities for the UK to become competitive and prosperous. Secondly, it wishes to sow division between the UK and its overseas territories.

Specifically, the minutes from the meeting reveal the Commission’s intention to demand binding and enforceable commitments from Theresa May that, after Brexit, the UK and its overseas territories will abide by the EU’s Code of Conduct for Business Taxation. We would also have to honour several EU Directives including those on exchange of information, tax avoidance, beneficial ownership registers and virtual currencies. 

As a consequence, the UK would lose all influence on important matters of tax compliance.  Currently, the UK has a veto in the Council of Ministers on tax legislation.

Current British constitutional arrangements also protect the autonomy of British overseas territories in their tax policies. Indeed, in many cases, this autonomy goes back many centuries. However, the Commission’s attempt to force EU rules on them is likely to drive these overseas territories towards full independence from the UK. 

The EU knows and understands this, and so it is using the Brexit negotiations to not only drive a wedge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but also between Great Britain and its island territories in the English Channel, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. 

This is yet another example of the EU imposing itself – or seeking to impose itself – on Britain when it has absolutely no business in doing so. Like the creepy stalker in Fatal Attraction who refuses to accept that the relationship is over, it keeps coming back with ever greater demands and threats.

So far, Theresa May has proved incapable of escaping this bullying monster. I wonder what it will take for her to understand the severity of the punishment which the EU bully boys wish to inflict on us.  

Theresa May is in a weak position because of the submissive stance she has consistently shown when dealing with Brussels. As a result, Britain is in danger of wasting the opportunities of Brexit. This leaked document shows what the EU’s intentions are. It is time for Mrs May to show some mettle and stand up for Britain. I shudder to think what the implications will be if she doesn’t seize the initiative and ensure that the EU’s tentacles stay well away from this country’s tax affairs for good.

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