MONTEITH: Without Brexit, UK Is Faced with £200 billion Bill When Eurozone Crashes

A statue holding the symbol of the Euro, the European common currency, stands in front of the European Parliament building on August 16 and 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.
Mark Renders/Getty

If you thought the EU’s demand for £39 billion of British taxpayers’ money was off the scale then be prepared for a shock. There’s a further huge contingent liability to the EU in the event of a Eurozone crisis of hundreds of billions pounds more, that Theresa May agreed to keep us on the hook for and which Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have not yet commented on.

The secret has been revealed, however, in a new 40-page report written by City banking specialist Bob Lyddon and published by the economic think tank Global Britain. The unpalatable truth that Remainers don’t want to acknowledge – and which you’ll never hear on the BBC or broadcast news channels – is that huge financial liabilities associated with EU membership cannot be avoided without a quick, clean Brexit.

Lyddon has established that a maximum possible liability of €207 billion could be escalated to €441 billion – or even more, if our exit is drawn out into the period of the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework.

The liability would be triggered if there was a renewed Eurozone crisis – which could come at any time and would require a “re-set” or sharing of the costs, via the large and solvent EU member-states borrowing in the named of indedebted states and institutions and paying off their debts.

Not being a member of the Euro currency area is not enough for the United Kingdom to avoid contributing towards the rescue costs even though we will have had no responsibility for any economic decisions. The UK needs to both leave and sever its contractual connections with the EU in order not to be caught up in this “re-set”.

Britain’s likely share of such a “re-set” would exceed €200 billion, a horrendous outcome that would set the country back many years in its efforts to escape from austerity. This would be all the more unacceptable considering we voted to leave the EU three years ago, and the best our negotiators have managed is a half-baked Withdrawal Agreement – in reality a new UK-EU treaty that leaves us exposed to risk for at least another twenty years.

Lyddon argues the Eurozone financial system is drinking in the last chance saloon — a saloon that is a hall of mirrors in which each participant appears solvent only because it accounts for its claims on the other participants at face value.

Behind this nightmare façade lies a black hole of €1 trillion – the financial hangover built up over twenty years from banks and investors acquiring assets in the “Club Med” countries and Ireland for far more than they are worth now after the financial crisis trashed a wide range of asset values.

The apparent recovery of the Eurozone since 2012/13 is an illusion, kept up by the ECB and the other Eurozone national central banks buying up government bonds in trillions, reducing yields, and enabling Eurozone governments to issue new debt at subsidised rates of interest — and flooding financial markets with cheap money.

In turn this enables bankrupt borrowers – known in financial parlance as “zombies” – to remain alive, and for lenders to these “zombies” to rank their loans as “Performing” even though the borrower cannot repay the capital or sustain a rise in interest rates.

This turns the lenders into zombies themselves, kept animate by European Central Bank money and creative accounting. Lending banks continue to be allowed to under-assess the risks in their businesses via “Internal Risk-Based” methodologies, and in turn to claim that they are well-capitalised when they are not. Non-Performing Loans are either massaged back into “Performing” status without borrowers paying any debt service, or are sold off in bogus securitisations where the bank continues to carry a high risk of loss.

Financial markets recognise and admit implicitly the size of the problems in the Eurozone’s banks by valuing bank shares at a considerable discount to their book value, while the European Central Bank’s supervision department has quantified bad loans as being 3.6 per cent of all loans that banks still hold on their balance sheet: both these indicators point towards a Eurozone-wide “black hole” of €1 trillion.

Lyddon points out that a meltdown could be triggered in any number of ways, but the “longstop” is a realisation in 2020/2021 – only a few months away – that it is economically and politically impossible to achieve compliance with the EU Fiscal Stability Treaty by 2030.

Not only Greece, Italy and Portugal, but Cyprus, Spain, France and Belgium have Debt-to-GDP ratios over 90 per cent, and only Greece’s ratio is falling. Failure to hit the Treaty targets will underline that the Euro is not really a single currency and that the countries using it are diverging economically rather than converging, as they should be.

Only a transfer of debt from the shoulders of these countries onto those of the stronger ones to achieve a consistent 87 per cent Debt-to-GDP ratio across the Eurozone and EU can avoid the crisis. The amount of debt to be transferred is again on the order of €1 trillion.

Because the UK remains tied into the Eurozone institutions – and is expected to do so under the Withdrawal Agreement – it will be called upon to help balance the books. The UK needs urgently to distance itself from involvement and the way to do that is to leave the EU as soon as possible and without a “deal”.

The mainstream media’s aversion to these unpalatable truths aside, the important question for now is, “What do Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson say to Eurozone contingent liabilities?”

Support for the Withdrawal Agreement meant supporting the UK being on the hook for a huge share of contingent liabilities – and that’s what Hunt and then latterly Johnson signed up to when they voted for May’s deal in Parliament.

Do they still support it now? In terms of scale, cost and importance to the UK’s economic future this issue is far bigger than the backstop.

Surely one of the candidates for Prime Minister must recognise that the UK cannot be left in a position where we could be liable for hundreds of billions of debt that we had no part in creating and sustaining?

Brian Monteith is a Member of the European Parliament for the Brexit Party


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