As I’ve been saying

Britain is preparing to demand a substantial share of European Union assets worth more than €150 billion in the attempt to cut the cost of the Brexit divorce bill.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is understood to be preparing a list of up to €60 billion of liabilities, including spending commitments signed off by Britain before the referendum that will be owed by the UK when it officially leaves in 2019.

However, officials in Whitehall are understood to be drawing up their own list of EU financial assets and the government thinks that it is entitled to a significant share.

Bruegel, an independent think tank in Brussels, made the first attempt to estimate the scale of these assets yesterday, placing them at €152.5 billion.

So they want us to cough up for agreed liabilities. OK, so let’s carve up the capital assets at the same time.

52 comments on “As I’ve been saying

  1. Back to Tim original point, it’ll be interesting to see what share of the €150B UK is entitled to. Will it be based on population, GDP or, my preference, net contributions to the EU budget?

  2. It’s a standard negotiating tactic. Start off by demanding everything and then compromise your way down to whatever you really wanted (or expected) to get in the first place. From the reports mentioned by Tim and Raffles, It looks as though both sides are trying to do this,

  3. I’m expecting Biggy to “sully” forth any moment to tell us why this isn’t possible and why it’s a good thing that it’s impossible.

  4. Given the residents’ heavy pro-Remain vote, any reason we shouldn’t be willing to give away Gibraltar as part of any deal? The Spanish seem to really want it.

  5. Given the residents’ heavy pro-Remain vote, any reason we shouldn’t be willing to give away Gibraltar as part of any deal?

    But how have they behaved following the vote? (Genuine question, I’ve no idea)

    If they collectively said, “Bugger! But that’s democracy, folks!” then we shouldn’t fuck them over. If they’re behaving like the worst sort of remoaner we see over here, then maybe we should give them what they’re asking for. Or threaten to.

  6. Cynic

    Given the residents’ heavy pro-Remain vote, any reason we shouldn’t be willing to give away Gibraltar as part of any deal? The Spanish seem to really want it.

    1) it’s potentially useful from a military perspective.

    2) The Gibs don’t really mean it, if the rest of us are actually going to leave that is.

    3) “The Spanish seem to really want it.”

  7. Granted, I’m no expert on diplomacy, but… we could threaten to send Lembit Opik back, right?

  8. I’m no fan of the EU, but I wouldn’t give Britain anything when you go. You chose to leave; you don’t get to take your ball with you.

  9. I would point out that
    a) Putin might one day be aggresive to the EU
    b) We have nukes
    We will remember their attitude when it comes to helping.
    Of course they can also rely on Trump and Le Pen to protect Estonia etc.

  10. I’m no fan of the EU, but I wouldn’t give Britain anything when you go. You chose to leave; you don’t get to take your ball with you.

    Oh, I think most of us here would be happy with that deal if it worked both ways (clean/hard Brexit). The problem is the EU is wanting alimony.

  11. @BiWales

    How did you do that quote formatting?

    I see your point. But they were willing to throw the rest of us under a bus, so I don’t see why we should stick our necks out now.

  12. BiW

    I was just trying to write that down, but couldn’t get the opposite of > to not start working. How did you show that, without it working?

  13. I was just trying to write that down, but couldn’t get the opposite of > to not start working. How did you show that, without it working?

    <

  14. @Rob

    “Let’s see the accounts please.”

    Would these be the externally audited accounts?

    The EU accounts are an embarrassment – even the auditors walked away IIRC.

    Strikes me as a great tactic. Insist on starting negotiations from properly audited accounts.

  15. We should agree to joint sovereignty of Gib with Spain. Would open the border, and provide a backdoor to the single market. We can argue about the small print later!

  16. Gamecock,

    What bollocks. When I told my partners I couldn’t work with them anymore, as a founding partner I demanded they buy me out of the business. After some hard negotiations which sadly enriched some lawyers, I got a share of the assets. Same principle is applied in divorce settlements. We’ve contributed to the assets of the union so should get some of that back. In divorce terms, we’re getting divorced due to the EU’s unreasonable behaviour. They may not be able to help it because they’re bloody foreigners, but we entered into the marriage thinking we could change them.

  17. DocBud – +1

    And this is the key point: we’re not dealing with rational adults here, we’re negotiating with Europeans.

    The Frenchies will demand we continue to subsidise their snail farms because their chainsmoking, beret-sporting children need wine.

    The Hun will want to export a “fair share” of their efficient, kebab-scented rapists.

    The excitable pasta wogs will jabber away incomprehensibly as is their wont.

    Spaniards are lazy, so will probably enjoy a siesta during the negotiations.

    Dealing with Euros is like dealing with unruly children: you need to know when to deploy a roundhouse kick or thousand-hand slap to establish dominance and knock some sense into their Baccalaureat-broiled brains.

  18. This is a bit of a LOL moment… but I can so see a protracted and bitter argument around this sort of nonsense.

  19. Same thing happened when we divorced Ireland. Split the assets, split the liabilities. I don’t have any details to hand but I’m sure that’s what Czech and Slovakia did. Standard partnership dissolution procedure. (The UK later decided to write off the Irish liabilities, but doesn’t change the initial point.)

  20. @TIS

    First, let me have a gratuitous use of quote markup:

    And this is the key point: we’re not dealing with rational adults here, we’re negotiating with Europeans.

    And to think, this bunch of petulant children is what the Remainers want us to form ever-closer union with.

    Mind you, our Remainers have proven to be sneering petulant children, so maybe it makes sense.

    A club that won’t just let you leave isn’t a club, is it? It’s a cult.

  21. A club that won’t just let you leave isn’t a club, is it?

    It’s a cult.

    Islam won’t let you leave? At least, not without “considerable punishment”?

  22. Timmy W: have you written, or will you consider writing, an article on what it would be like to just walk away with standard international rules?

    Trade-wise we’ve had stuff about reverting to WTO rules etc, but these EU demands for alimony add an interesting new wrinkle.

    Would foreign governments be in any situation to actually enforce this crap legally? Could we just walk away and say, “if you want that money, try suing us in a court that has jurisdiction over the UK”? It’s not like they’d have grounds for economic sanctions, is it?

  23. Fair enough. The EU’s case isn’t strong enough to be worth an article.

    More a case of trying to part on friendly terms even though the ex is a nutter?

  24. @Rob Harries:

    We should start with one demand: The destruction of the French Republic. Everything else is chicken feed

    Bit bloody late for that surely? Le frog’s have been working in the ruins of the French Republic since WWII.

    @DocBud:

    In divorce terms, we’re getting divorced due to the EU’s unreasonable behaviour. They may not be able to help it because they’re bloody foreigners, but we entered into the marriage thinking we could change them.

    I would argue that we joined a business partnership (the EEC as was back in 1973), which was revealed to be a form of hidden marriage, thus instead of a partnership buyout we have demands for alimony.

    In all fairness, there will be genuine liabilities and these must be offset against EU assets. We can even help them with the mortgage financing if they are struggling. I’m sure the Berlaymont building is worth a bob or two and then there are those flip-flop EU parliament buildings in Strasbourg and Brussels.

    Sure, we may have made some commitments that are still unfunded, but I doubt that it is a fraction of the bullshit figures being bandied about by that idiot Barnier (EU Chief negotiator for BRExit).

    As Tim and others have said, this is just an opening salvo and given that the option to walk away from any deal remains, then I expect this will be settled firmly in areas where there is joint agreement and the bill (if anything), will be modest.

  25. When I told my partners I couldn’t work with them anymore, as a founding partner I demanded they buy me out of the business.

    [Testing the blockyquote.]

    Are you claiming Britain’s relationship with the EU is a business partnership, and business law applies?

  26. @Cynic, February 16, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Given the residents’ heavy pro-Remain vote, any reason we shouldn’t be willing to give away Gibraltar as part of any deal? The Spanish seem to really want it.

    We’re keeping Gibraltar, Spain can sod off.

    Consider: UK/Gib and Spain vs Spain/Ceuta & Melilla and Morocco

    @Bloke in Wales, February 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

    But how have they behaved following the vote? (Genuine question, I’ve no idea)

    Good question.

    I had a look at the Gibraltar Chronicle and it was a haven of peace & tranquility: Trump, Russia & Brexit rarely mentioned.

  27. It should also be pointed out that many of those “liabilities” are for membership of schemes and organisations where the UK was e pecked to share in the benefits of membership, profits and research.

    Payment may well be expected if the intent is that the UK will be offered continued membership. If not, however? The UK may be either entire to a repayment of costs expended and, in some cases, compensation.

  28. Bloke in Wales said:
    “If they collectively said, “Bugger! But that’s democracy, folks!” then we shouldn’t fuck them over. If they’re behaving like the worst sort of remoaner we see over here, then maybe we should give them what they’re asking for.”

    I was out in Gib in September; definitely the “bugger, but hey ho, let’s make the best of it” approach.

  29. I’m rather looking forward to a repatriation of the pensions due to the likes of Peter Mandelson, the Kinnocks, Nick Clegg, Ann Clwyd etc. etc.

    The NHS (pbui) and care homes for the elderly need the dosh more than these establishment stalwarts who mistakenly regard themselves as tribunes of the people.

  30. Lets not give any extra to the NHS or pensioners. Both have done well out of the last 6 years.
    Give any extra to someone else….

    Not councils – they have been on a diet for several years and looking slimmer than they were. Turns out they can indeed provide services within a much smaller budget than they used to have.

    How about education? Chuck money at that if they will sack the 10% worst performing teachers, evaluation o performance by royal marines rather than civil servants or ex teachers.

  31. Nah, right now any spare cash should go on shrinking the debt or deficit, depending on if it’s a one-off or ongoing saving.

    I’ve pretty much just argued that there’s no such thing as spare cash right now, seeing as the State owes and is borrowing.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing business taxes cut.

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