Well, here we are again. Another half-year older and deeper in shit…
We had the pleasure of visiting La Belle France again this spring: some friends have recently escaped to Brittany, and we went to visit them to
commiserate with (sorry, congratulate) them.
They sold a house in Somerset and, for considerably less money, bought 2 acres (thats about four-fifths of a hectare, for the Metricists among you) in the middle of Brittany with a house, a gîte and a (potentially convertible) second garage. More space, nice countryside, better weather, friendly natives and an altogether better life-style. So, what’s the down-side?
What will happen to them if the UK is stupid enough to leave the EU? Probably not very much, as we had arrangements with the French before we went in, and will – probably – have similar if we leave. Unless Brussels gets pissy, of course…
So, that brings me on to the Referendum. UKIP and their paranoid friends want to pull us out of the Union, quoting examples of stupid Brussels interference in our ‘internal affairs’.
Also quoted is the ‘unrestricted’ movement of EU citizens between countries in the Union, insisting that this allows loads of freeloaders, ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ and Islamic jihadis unfettered access to this country.
Most of this is nonsense, of course: pure prejudice. There are already rules to control the movement of non-EU citizens and most EU citizens who come here contribute more than they extract from the welfare system, and there are already sanctions that can be applied to those who don’t. I agree that UK levels of family allowance shouldn’t be paid to EU workers whose families are not resident: at most they should get the levels of family allowance (if any!) that are applicable to the child’s country of residence. The easy solution is to change the UK rules: this would not require the EU’s approval, so long as the rules were changed to apply to everyone, including UK citizens.
Since the EU insists on there being no border checks between member states (ever tried getting into the UK from France without a passport???) then such border checks as are applied should be financed by all member states. This would remove the onerous costs currently being forced on Greece, Italy and the other edge states. Introduce a common EU border force and refugee handling organisation, centrally financed, and insist on immigrants registering in the country of arrival. Failure to register being automatic justification for deportation.
Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is legal. If the Government don’t approve, they should change the tax rules. The simplest way would be to make it so that, if you earn money in or out of the UK, it is taxed as income in the UK – after all, that’s what they do in the USA. Again, make it apply to everyone and the EU would have no grounds for complaint. Also change the labyrinthine mechanisms by which Companies can shuffle money around and between different Group companies and stop companies charging themselves ludicrous amounts for services by other group companies based outside the UK (such as Google, Facebook and Amazon…) and you could end up with a sensible – and simple! – tax system.
Rant over. Despite the above, I still think we should remain in the EU…