One cut that’s needed
The government was defeated in the Commons on 31 October as 53 Conservative backbench MPs voted with Labour MPs. They passed a non-binding amendment calling for a “real terms cut” in the next long-term EU budget. Britain gave the EU £7 billion last year; this will rise to £9.4 billion by 2014-15.
Let us out!
Two polls in November show Britain would vote to leave the EU if given the choice. A YouGov poll found that 49 per cent of British voters would vote to leave the EU, 28 per cent of people would vote to stay in, with 17 per cent undecided (5 per cent wouldn’t vote at all). The Opinium/Observer poll reported that 56 per cent would vote to leave, 30 per cent to stay and 14 per cent unsure.
Goodbye, and thanks for the bailout
Greek taxpayers have bailed out private creditors, who in return have sent 22 billion euros out of the country in the last three years. 400 Greeks have bought expensive London properties. Some 30 billion euros, an amount equal to 15 per cent of Greece’s GDP, escapes tax every year. 2,000 rich Greeks have illegal Swiss bank accounts, including former ministers and officials from the finance ministry.
The EU imposed a new 13.8 billion euro “austerity” (poverty) package on Greece. These EU policies will force Greece’s debt up to 189 per cent of output in the name of cutting the deficit. The Democratic Left supported the government in the vote on the new budget. The two main Greek unions have launched another general strike against the budget. Greece has held 20 general strikes so far, with no progress.
Bring on the debt
Debt-to-GDP ratios will be higher in 2013 in all EU members, except Ireland. Ireland’s bad loans are 44 per cent of all outstanding bank loans, the highest level in any banking crisis in history. Planned cuts from 2011 to 2014 will destroy 10 per cent of GDP in Greece and Portugal and 8 per cent in Ireland. The governments of Britain, France, Italy and Spain are aiming for 5-6 per cent cuts. ■