Former European Union employee Peter Mandelson has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to pay the £50 billion “ransom” the bloc has demanded as the price of Brexit.
“What I think the Government has got to do is bite on the bullet on the exit, bite on the bullet on the money, say ‘Look, we know we’re going to have to do this, we’re going to get there, let’s do it sooner rather than later’ so that we can then retain as much time as possible, as much negotiating goodwill and good atmospherics to focus and invest in the really important negotiation in front of us, which is about our future trading relationship,” he told an Institute for Government audience.
“I would just settle the tab, do the money, do it as quickly as possible,” he continued. “It’s not going to be a vast sum of money – I mean it will be a vast sum of money – but as a percentage of our public spending and GDP in this country, given that it’s going to be paid over very many years, it’s small change.
“And I would deal with the small change of the financial settlement in the first negotiation as quickly as you can in order to advance in as propitious as way as you can to the second stage of the negotiation, which is about the future trade arrangement.”
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) March 31, 2017
Mandelson, who cut his political teeth in the Young Communist League before becoming a New Labour heavyweight, was gifted a job on the European Commission after scandals forced his resignation from Tony Blair’s administration twice.
The 63-year-old is, therefore, due to receive a £31,000 a year index-linked EU pension – which would have cost around £550,000 on the private market, according to The Telegraph – in just two years.
The EU imposes a “duty of loyalty” on its employees, however, and if Mandelson failed to meet his “obligations” to the bloc he could be “deprived of his right to a pension or other benefits”.
— Global Britain (@GlobalBritain) April 5, 2017
Some commentators, such as Global Britain co-director Brian Monteith, have disputed the characterisation of the so-called “divorce bill” the EU is demanding as Britain’s “tab”.
“When you leave a club – be it boules or bowls – you are obliged to pay for any outstanding bar bill, but you would tell the club secretary what to do with any request to pay for the greenkeepers’ pensions,” he wrote in City A.M.
“You have paid your membership fees dutifully every year to cover such costs, but after you depart they become the responsibility of the remaining members.”