by Donna Rachel Edmunds
In a move that seems almost designed specifically to annoy the British, German and French officials have drawn up secret plans to impose a standard Corporation Tax rate across the whole of the EU, at a stroke destroying Britain’s global competitive edge. According to the Express, sources in Brussels confirmed yesterday that officials in Berlin and Paris are currently working on the plan, derided as a “brazen power grab” by Eurosceptics in Westminster.
The timing couldn’t be worse for Prime Minister David Cameron as he embarks on his treaty renegotiation plans ahead of an In/Out referendum. The new tax rules will not require treaty change to enact and therefore won’t be subject to any national vote in member states which require them, but an opt-out will need to be added to Mr Cameron’s ever-growing shopping list of demands.
“Brussels imposing a common corporation tax will be the most brazen power grab we have witnessed, said Alan Murad of campaign group Get Britain Out
“This is using the EU to undercut competitive countries like Britain. The outcome will be to reduce our competitiveness in global trade. Jobs will be lost and wages reduced. It is a policy based on resentment of Britain’s economic performance.
“It sets a terrifying precedent when decisions about our tax rates are made by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels instead of elected officials in Westminster. This demonstrates why we should get Britain out.”
During the last Parliament, Chancellor George Osborne dropped the Corporation Tax rate from 28 percent down to an extremely competitive 20 percent, undercutting both Germany (29.65 percent) and France (33.33 percent) by a wide margin. Consequently, the British economy pulled ahead as the Eurozone stagnated. It is likely that an EU set rate would be a step up for British businesses, to bring it more in line with those of our contintental partners.
French and German officials have said that they welcome the move as it would eliminate the incentive for big businesses, like Amazon and Starbucks, to shop around for the best rate. Left wing politicians on both sides of the channel have been waging a war against perfectly legitimate tax avoidance practices in recent years, claiming them to be immoral as they deprive the state of much needed cash to fund large bureaucracies.
But in the UK, Parliamentarians from across the right have slammed the move. UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall has lead the attack on the brazen tax grab. He said:
“Germany and France have given up the pretence they will allow states to continue to control their own taxation. When Germany and France say the EU imperative for ‘ever closer union’ must stand, they mean it – closer political union, closer economic union and closer fiscal union.”Senior Tory MP John Redwood was not so sure. He toed the party line on renegotiation, saying: “The eurozone is going to need a lot more common government – common taxation and control over borrowing and spending. This is another good reason why we need a new relationship with this emerging political union.”
The plans put David Cameron in an awkward position ahead of a British referendum on continued membership of the EU. Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech confirmed that legislation to hold the historic referendum will be introduced to Parliament within the next few days, with the date for the plebiscite being ushered forwards.
Downing Street officials revealed that the question put to voters will be: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” But Brexit campaigners criticised the proposed wording, as inviting voters to say “yes” introduces a subtle bias into the question.
Stuart Coster of the People’s Pledge campaign for an EU referendum, said:
“When it comes to the question, referendum precedent is that the change option, in this case leaving the EU, should invite a ‘yes’ response.
“Breaking with that established pattern to assert the opposite would expose the government to charges of trying to disadvantage its opponents in the ‘out’ campaign on the basis that it is counter-intuitive to force a campaign for change to be negative.
“The recent Scottish independence vote, the referendum on the voting system, and major devolution votes in Wales, London and over a North East Assembly all invited those seeking change to vote ‘yes’.
“The last time a referendum question made those seeking change the ‘no’ campaign was the original European Community vote in 1975.
“To be seen as acting fairly to both sides the government must either reverse the question so that voters would opt for ‘yes’ if they wish to leave the EU or select the Electoral Commission’s second recommended question offering alternative responses to simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”