What do the following organisations have in common? University of Cambridge, English Nature, Natural England, University College London, Green Alliance, the Institute for European Environmental Policy, Environment Agency, Natural Environment Research Council, Countryside Commission, National Trust, Environment Agency, and the RSPB.
Have you got it yet? They all supported the letter in January this year to the environment secretary, warning that, “a vote to leave [the EU] would put in jeopardy international efforts to tackle climate change and pollution, restore fish stocks, and improve biodiversity.”
But letter writing isn’t all they have in common. The Quangos they represent have received lavish supplies of EU funding – which, in reality, is paid for by the British taxpayer. In some cases, the people signing were paid by the organisations and hence their salaries were funded by EU (our) dosh.
Not surprisingly, they are keen for Britain to remain in the EU. And they’re willing to write letters of support to try to ensure that it does.
And you don’t even have to be resident in Britain to be a recipient of EU taxpayer dosh. For example, David Milliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, based in New York, in charge of the agency’s humanitarian relief operations, at an eye-watering salary of £425,000 a year. The IRC is funded by the EU – in other words, David Milliband’s huge salary is paid by British taxpayers. The investment has paid off handsomely: David thinks that Brexit “would be an act of economic, political and diplomatic self-harm – a tragic miscalculation”. It’s easy to see why David thinks it could be harmful for us to leave. The EU without Britain might feel it could no longer afford such a generous salary for David – or indeed all the other many recipients of British taxpayer money.
David Milliband learned the power of EU cash when he was Foreign Secretary in the Blair government. He introduced a bill in 2007 ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. He told the House of Commons that “a whole range of NGOs had also come out in favour. Environmental organizations support the treaty provisions on sustainable development and even the commission of bishops supports the treaty. This is a coalition, not of ideology, but integrity.”
Eurosceptic MEP Dan Hannan smelled a rat and sent a written question to the EU Commission asking how much EU cash had been paid to these organisations.
“It turned out,” wrote Hannan, “ that in the previous year, ActionAid, the NSPCC, One World Action and Oxfam had between them been given € 43,051,542.”
“In much the same way,” says Hannan, “the Commission pays Friends of the Earth to urge it to take more powers in the field of climate change. It pays WWF to tell it to assume more control over environmental matters. It pays the European Trade Union Congress to demand more Brussels employment laws.”
“To summarize, the EU machine-guns cash at its client organizations, these organizations tell it what it wants to hear, and it then turns around and claims to have listened to The People. And here’s the clever bit: millions are thereby drawn into the system, their livelihoods becoming dependent on the European project.”
The Remain campaign and the Leave campaign have legal limits on the amount they can each spend promoting their point of view in the UK referendum. Each side is limited to £7 million (although David Cameron contrived to spend around £26 Million of taxpayer’s money by various Panama-style evasions.)
The European Union, on the other hand can spend unlimited amounts promoting the remain campaign. But, as Dan Hannan has pointed out, the EU is unlikely to be so naïve as to try to spend money directly influencing the campaign. Instead they will continue with the strategy they have pursued for decades: they keep influential individuals and organisations plentifully supplied with taxpayer’s money so that they will wish to continue riding the gravy train as long as possible.
Hence we get periodic “spontaneous” groupthink announcements from the great and the good – that is the great recipients of EU largesse with our cash.
Next time you read a Facebook post or a newspaper article telling you that Scientists are in favour of remaining, or Big Businessmen are in favour of remaining or even – in some tragic cases – this or that Union is in favour of remaining, just ask yourself; how much money have they had from the EU?
And then ask yourself how much money are you personally getting from the EU? And how much better off would you be if the net £10 Billion we send to Brussels each year were spent in the UK instead of abroad?