The Government’s Fantasy Europe: The reality of the EU, explains Professor Robert Tombs, is 'an alarming state of uncertainty and flux.'
Friday 22nd April: The seven-page leaflet sent to us all by Mr Cameron, and the 200 pages provided by Mr Osborne - both eminently political documents about Europe - have one remarkable thing in common: they contain nothing about politics and little about Europe. The ‘EU’ to which they repeatedly allude is a distant abstraction: a bloodless organization we trade with. Their argument is solely based on [what they say is] our individual material interest as consumers. It does not treat us as citizens of a nation who might be and should be concerned with our own and Europe’s democracy, accountability and long-term social welfare.
Buffeted by crises, beset by shocks. How different the real EU is from the picture given here of a faceless, unchanging economic machine, with a future ‘based on the EU as it is today’, with ‘an ambitious agenda of economic reform’ about to be realized in Brussels. No hint is given that the EU today is in fact in the grip of intractable economic and political crises. Its first signs of economic failings go back forty years - ironically, just the moment Britain joined and then voted in the first referendum to stay. At that moment, European economic growth was beginning its long slow-down after a post-war boom which had made it seem such an attractive partner to Harold Macmillan and Harold Wilson.
Friday 8th April: The Panama papers have been used to imply that offshore tax havens serve the main function of dubious tax dodging. Yet many who seek to preserve and enhance their wealth overseas do so perfectly legally. Modern states need individuals to create, preserve and enhance wealth. Drive them away and the nation will pay the price, writes Stanley Brodie QC.
The furore generated by the disclosure of the Panama Papers seems unreal, and in some respects farcical. It is assumed by commentators, such as Tom Bradby and Robert Peston (on television the 5th April), that the fact that a British citizen has deposited funds or assets with or through the law firm of Massock Fonseca itself suggests wrongdoing of some kind; in particular the innuendo is that the motivation for using its services is to conceal taxable assets or revenues from the tax authorities in the United Kingdom. The secrecy usually associated with such transactions is a factor pointing towards some kind of impropriety. Panama is labelled by commentators as a tax haven, as if that were sufficient to make the deposit of money or assets there by a British citizen immediately suspect. It is to be noted that thus far there is no suggestion that any of the clients of Massock Fonseca (including the Prime Minister’s late father) has engaged in any unlawful conduct or concealment.