Saturday, December 17, 2005

And the beat goes on…


It has gone into extra time and this blogger is not going to stay up half the night to wait for the final result.

As it stood just past midnight, Blair's final offer was on the table, with our revered leader looking as manic as usual, making tough noises about people having to "make up their mind as to whether they want to do this deal at all."

However, with a deal in the air, it seems last-minute demands from Poland for a bigger share of the increased funds held up the talks, leaving, according to Reuters, the 25 leaders (24, shurely) cooling their heels in an antechamber. British officials are saying that the Poles were not alone in making last-minute demands. The feeling was, though, that Poland was unlikely to block a deal, so some time this morning, the deed will be done.

Nothing has changed from Blair's earlier offer of a cut of €10.5 billion (£7.1 billion) in the rebate, up from the €8 billion and it is now being said that the total spend goes up to 1.045 percent of GDP or €862 billion over seven years, up from a previous proposal of 1.03 percent or €849 billion.

Merkel seems to have paid a pivotal role, of which more, no doubt, will be heard later, as will the full details of Blair's sell out. As it stands, however, Britain is £7 billion poorer, plus whatever extra we have to pay to the budget, all for the privilege of belonging to an organisation we'd rather leave.

Can I be depressed now, or do I have to wait?


A BILLION here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money.

Last night Tony Blair caved in to the French and handed over another billion a year to keep the shambolic EU in business. The fiendishly complex gravy train defies rational explanation. But we know it is wasteful and corrupt.

Each Pound shrinks by 20p just by passing through the bureaucratic EU wringer. Vast sums are sprayed around the world in inefficient aid. Much of the rest sticks to grubby fingers as its passes along the line.

Some actually ends up in new roads and bridges, but in the most expensive way imaginable. Year after year, EU auditors refuse to sign off the accounts.

Tony Blair had a chance to put a bomb under this scandal last night. He could have vetoed plans to spend even more and force a shake-up of the whole shambles.

Instead, to Gordon Brown's fury, the PM signed up to an extra £7 BILLION over seven years. That's money the Chancellor must find in higher taxes to pay for a spending splurge which is running out of steam.


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