EU ‘purpose is to make sure power is preserved’ says Habib
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And former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib said the UK Government’s threatened refusal to pay amounted to nothing more than “theatrics”. As things stand, the UK is currently committed to paying a total of £2.1billion annually for the next seven years.
As things stand, the UK is currently committed to paying a total of £2.1billion annually for the next seven years.
Controversy flared earlier this month after a leaked memo suggested Britain was ready to withhold the cash from three flagship EU research projects – Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom.
The memo indicated Mr Johnson’s Government was ready to retaliate after becoming convinced participation in all three projects is being deliberately stalled by the EU, meaning Britain’s universities are missing out on research and funding opportunities.
However, Mr Habib suggested the threat was an empty one – while warning the cash would simply serve to bolster Brussel’s military ambitions.
Specifically, he was concerned about the UK’s commitment at part of Horizon Europe to pay £285billion towards the European Defence Fund, which is described by the European Commission as its “initiative to support collaborative defence research and development, and to foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base”.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “The British government has threatened to withdraw from three EU research programmes if the EU should go hostile over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The threat from London reveals a number of inconvenient truths about Lord Frost’s Brexit deal.
“First and foremost, the UK is committed to paying £15 billion to the EU – Johnson’s entire Brexit campaign centred on stopping payments to Brussels. Remember the red bus?”
In addition, the funding was more valuable to the EU than the programmes were to the UK, otherwise the mooted withdrawal would be no threat at all, Mr Habib pointed out.
“But it is much worse than that. What the British people may not appreciate is that this money does not just go towards benign research for the betterment of mankind.
“Only if the EU agree or we terminate the entire Brexit deal can we extricate ourselves from these payments.
“As ever the Johnson government has tied itself and the country up in knots with false promises and misrepresentations.”
French President Emmanuel Macron is a vocal advocate of the creation of a European Army.
Meanwhile Joseph Borrell, the bloc’s top diplomat earlier this year suggested US President Joe Biden’s shambolic Afghanistan pullout could serve as a “catalyst” for the EU to create a permanent military division.
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We are paying for the development of an EU army!
“A large slug of it heads to the European Defence Fund; the EU’s military development programme.”
Mr Habib added: “We are paying for the development of an EU army! That is wrong at all levels.
“Our strategic interests lie with NATO not the EU.”
As for the idea of not paying the cash, he stressed: “People may also not realise we cannot withdraw from these programmes.
“The threat to do so is no more than theatrics.
Initially he floated the idea of a 50,000-strong intervention force before dramatically revising the figure down to 5,000.
Sir John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham, was among those who were unimpressed.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in September, he said: “The proponents of European integration press for EU military forces and missions.
“The truth is the defence of Europe relies heavily on NATO and US involvement.
“The EU needs to make a bigger contribution to NATO if wants to strengthen its defences.”
A government spokeswoman said: “We remain ready to formalise our association to Horizon Europe, but disappointingly there have been persistent delays from the EU, despite them being obligated under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to finalise our participation.
“UK participation in Horizon would benefit both the UK and the EU and it’s a great opportunity for us work together to address shared challenges. We are also due to contribute around £15bn to the programme and are Europe’s leading R&D and science centre with world class scientists and innovators.
“In the meantime, we are supporting the UK’s R&D sector and we’ll continue to do so regardless of what happens with Horizon.”
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