That was the threat that May gave yesterday in her speech if the UK was forced to walk away from the negotiating table at the Brexit negotiations.
Previously I postulated that UK citizens living abroad and EU citizens living in the UK would be used as May’s key bargaining chip and, although that may yet come to pass, it seems she has decided that the EU will be more likely to react to a tax haven being set up on the edge of Europe.
However, while the right-wing press might be applauding this manoeuvre, it is an empty threat. Why? Because it’s going to happen anyway.
In fact it’s already happening. How many headlines have their been about the sweetheart tax deals and big multinationals not paying their fair share? The legality of it is neither here nor there for the UK government – as long as the super rich remain happy (because they fund the political parties.) Le Monde once described The City of London as Europe’s biggest money laundering operation. Outside of the EU’s banking regulation The City has been able to do whatever shady deals it liked without fear of prosecution. What has the UK government done about this? Nothing. The UK is a moral vacuum – arms dealing is fine too. Whatever – as long as they make money.
So if it’s a sure thing – how does it become a bargaining chip? It doesn’t, but the quitters need to rub their hands together about something and the media need something to talk about.
To the EU it should not make a huge difference if the UK does become a tax haven. After all Lichtenstein, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Andorra, Luxembourg, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Switzerland are already doing as much – what difference would another one make?
The question would simply be – how hard is the EU going to try and make it for the UK to sell it’s products and services in the EU?
What would be in it for the EU to make such a thing easy?
The fact remains that the UK will have almost no bargaining power in the Brexit negotiations – but Theresa May will grab every opportunity to give the impression that she is in control – however far from the truth that may be.