On Dividing Large Numbers by Other Large Numbers

Conservative backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, welcoming today’s Economists for Free Trade report predicting a bright post-Brexit future for the UK economy, remarked that the loss of the UK’s £9 billion per annum net contribution to the budget would render the EU ‘effectively insolvent’, according to the Guardian.

They should therefore be threatened with immediate suspension of the UK’s payments, forcing the EU to do a deal. Nine billion divided by the EU-27 population of 450 million works out at £20 per capita per annum.

Mr. Rees-Mogg has been described as a possible future leader of the Conservative party and has performed strongly in straw polls of party activists.

Is it OK if I lie down for a while?

12 thoughts on “On Dividing Large Numbers by Other Large Numbers”

  1. The Brexit fantasy is widely shared, so it’s not particularly surprising that un-facts are being used as talking points to shape policy. If you need to lie down now, I must wonder where you’ve been for the last year. In case you missed it, Boris Johnson was already nearly PM of the UK and is currently Foreign Secretary. Rees-Mogg as PM is only slightly nuttier than that.

    Even recently, I believe it was just yesterday that a speech in the UK Parliament on the NI border problem talked about the EU trying to force a part of the UK out of the UK and used the phrase “No Surrender”. While it’s essentially bonkers English nationalism that’s driving Brexit, there’s plenty of bonkers to go around.

  2. He’s not short of a few bob ~£50 million in the arze pocket at least … if somewhat challenged on long division …

    The many, many millions of Mogg

    Behind the old-fashioned suits and perfect manners, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is a titan of high finance

    ‘the careful, deliberate delivery of phrases which fall slightly at the end, like a gramophone needing an extra turn of the crank. It is as though some enterprising audio-logist had devised the perfectly reassuring voice and presented it, with great doses of warmth and humour, in this double-breasted package.

    A figure of intrigue (and not a little amusement) in the political world since first standing for Parliament in the safe Labour seat of Central Fife in 1997, there is a side to Rees-Mogg which few in the Westminster bubble see: that of the successful financier. The investment company of which he is the chairman, Somerset Capital Management, was founded by Rees-Mogg, Dominic Johnson and Edward Robertson in 2007 and currently has $7.6-billion under management, with offices in London and Singapore. The three men were colleagues at Lloyd George Management in Hong Kong before leaving to found SCM. Robertson and Rees-Mogg had been responsible for building the company’s emerging-market products, the sector which forms the basis of SCM’s investments.

    Read on: https://life.spectator.co.uk/2016/11/many-many-millions-mogg/

  3. Quite right! As Gideon Rachman put it in his FT column:

    ‘..in general, the EU seems to have decided that it can absorb the direct costs of Britain leaving without a deal. When, at a recent closed-doors event, a senior British politician argued that, in the event of a “no deal”, the EU will be left with a €10bn hole in its budget, the Europeans in the audience seemed unimpressed. As one of them put it to me afterwards: “There are 27 of us. I think we can manage that.” ‘ (Link below)

    Apart from which, there’s a problem with reducing the myriad impacts of Brexit to one big number? Especially when used as a propaganda weapon and to conceal the disparity of effects at local/regional level? Unlike the EU member-states – particularly Ireland – whose trade and economic growth will be inevitably damaged by the UK’s exit from the EU, within the UK itself, regions that stand to be negatively affected by loss of subsidies, European regional supports etc., such as Wales, Northern Ireland, North of England, Cornwall and so on, will not have the cushion of 26 other countries to fall back on.

    Never able to resist the lure of a passing microphone, Mr. Rees-Mogg frequently comes across as a bit of a wazzock, as younger people would call it. As do the currently named rivals for his party’s leadership. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about any of that; except remain clear-sighted about the pursuit of our own interests.

    https://www.ft.com/content/d76a5602-c854-11e7-aa33-c63fdc9b8c6c

  4. Quite right! As Gideon Rachman put it in his FT column:

    ‘..in general, the EU seems to have decided that it can absorb the direct costs of Britain leaving without a deal. When, at a recent closed-doors event, a senior British politician argued that, in the event of a “no deal”, the EU will be left with a €10bn hole in its budget, the Europeans in the audience seemed unimpressed. As one of them put it to me afterwards: “There are 27 of us. I think we can manage that.” ‘ (Link below)

    Apart from which, there’s a problem with reducing the myriad impacts of Brexit to one big number? Especially when used as a propaganda weapon and to conceal the disparity of effects at local/regional level? Unlike the EU member-states – particularly Ireland – whose trade and economic growth will be inevitably damaged by the UK’s exit from the EU, within the UK itself, regions that stand to be negatively affected by loss of subsidies, European regional supports etc., such as Wales, Northern Ireland, North of England, Cornwall and so on, will not have the cushion of 26 other countries to fall back on.

    Never able to resist the lure of a passing microphone, Mr. Rees-Mogg frequently comes across as a bit of a wazzock, as younger people would call it. As do the currently named rivals for his party’s leadership. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about any of that; except remain clear-sighted about the pursuit of our own interests.

      1. As Kevin and Grumpy make clear below, ‘wazzock’ originates in North of England urban slang, where I first heard it. It refers to an irredeemiably stupid and annoying person. Or what those of us from the West of Ireland might more politely term ‘thick as a stone wall’.It sounds a lot less rude than other words commonly used to designate such individuals.Sadly yes, we have our own fair share of wazzocks…compiling lists for comparative purposes might be fun?

  5. According to the Bow Group the average age of Conservative Party members is 72. Think about what the curve must look like.

    Howard, Hague, Duncan Smith; think about those. Desperation to be electable led to the party Blairing-up to get back into power with CallMeDave the PR guy moderniser. Then May who got to power by fence-sitting, immediately started method-acting as a hard-line Brexiteer.

    Corbyn & McDonald are extreme enough, and sufficiently unpalatable enough to much of the electorate, to allow the Tories to revert to what they really want – and that tends to be hard-line Thatcherism. Hence Minford, Rees-Mogg et al. They see the EU as a socialist regulator which must go no matter what the cost.

    Corbyn & McDonald see the EU as a neoliberal right wing elitist conspiracy, but are backing away from the view that it must go at all costs in order to make way for full-on socialism.

    The once crowded middle ground of UK politics is occupied by tumbleweed and an old bloke called Vince who is old enough to be mistaken for a Tory activist.

    It is absolutely bizarre, and fact that probably 99% of the British public have almost no knowledge or understanding of macro-economics, has been an important facilitating factor over the decades.

  6. The emergence of Jacob Ress Mogg as a possible future leader of the Conservative party is a symptom of the fact that, for most of the time, the majority of voters can focus on only one big issue at a time. Normally it is a combined focus on who governs and on the quality of that governance, but this tends to be at its most intense and engages the attention of voters only in the run-up to a general election. (We’ve had a relatively recent example of this in Ireland. In 2011 a majorirty of voters wanted to elect a government to replace the FF/Green coalition, but they also wanted to give the outgoing coalition a thorough and fully deserved electoral kicking. So they focused on administering the kicking and ended up giving the FG/Lab coalition a whopping majority almost by default. But they soon tired of the arrogance and bombast of that shower.)

    For the moment the focus is on EU exit and it sits well with a majority of British voters. The learned and taught ignorance – the latter hammered home incessantly by much of the mainstream media – of the majority of British citizens about the EU and its institutions is almost legendary. And the sight of Jean-Claude Juncker, with all the baggage he carries, for whom or for his political faction British subjects had never voted, proposing laws and regulations infuriated many. And much of the anti-EU media in Britain ensured they were suitably infuriated.

    But the focus of many voters will soon switch to governance issues. Paradoxically, the more time spent debating the EU withdrawal legislation in Parliament and the more controversy it provokes the more the resolve of a majority of voters will harden in favour of “just get on with it and get back to day-to-day governance”. A popular view is beginning to form that if it is so difficult and time-consuming to disengage from the EU then it imposes an excessive burden and the UK is well out of it.

    Another factor that should not be underestimated is the economic pain many British citizens will be prepared to endure – and to impose on others – once they have settled on a course of action. And from an Irish perspective we should not forget the sneering contempt in which the Tories advancing EU exit hold Irish people and anything Irish -but only on those rare occasions when they might be required to give us some consideration.

    Despite its remarkable longevity as a politicial entity focused on securing and retaining power, the Tory party seems fated to tear itself to pieces at least once a century. The Corn Law did for Peel from the 1840s and kept the Tories out for years. Imperial Preference contributed to an exile in the early years of the last century. And animosity to the EU has festered since the late 1980s. But they appear fated to stagger on in government internalising this existential conflict about the EU because of a fully justified fear of the impact of the Dumbvirate of Corbyn and McDonnell.

    The outcome will not be pretty and we can only hope our EU partners and the institutions retain their current cohesion.

  7. Wazzocks were traditionally spawney-eyed Colm, I’m not sure if that helps?

    What makes me want to lie down and have a little rest is the realisation that our little country seems currently to be run by leaders who are far more sensible and pragmatic than those on offer across the water. That judgement would not change were an FF-led administration to come to power.

    Pass me the smelling salts.

    1. Kevin raises an intriguing question. Are there more wazzocks, percentage-wise, in the Irish or in the British cabinet?
      According to Collins Universal Dictionary a wazzock is either an idiot or an annoying person – it is not necessary to be both.

      Of the 15 members of the Irish cabinet, I would rate three as either idiots or annoying (one is both), to give an overall wazzock score of 20%. I imagine this is somewhere around the international average.

      There are 22 members in the British cabinet. Only 10 appear to me to be neither idiots nor annoying, so there are 12 wazzocks and a wazzock score of no less than 55%. Do readers agree? Are these reasonable estimates?

  8. UK government, Telegraph, Daily Mail et al seeking to fix Brexit day so as to remove possibility of mutually agreed extension of 2 year Article 50 deadline. This is because they realise the realities of Brexit are starting to become apparent to many journalists and thereby, to many uncommitted voters who casually backed the exit vote or abstained.

    It is a tactically stupid move in terms of negotiating a sensible deal with the EU, but that doesn’t matter to them. The important thing is to close off any possibility of a delay allowing their momentum to ebb away. That they, by and large, understand that is what they are doing might result in the verdict of history including the word wassocks, at least in those parts of the North of England where the word comes from, and where flat bluntness is seen as a virtue.

    A wassock are a sort of pillock without redeeming features and more or less beyond empathy.

    And yes there are Colm. Would you like a list?

    1. If you take a close look at British history, in terms of coming out on the ‘winning’ end of things they’ve been more lucky than competent, both in their strategy and decision-making capabilities over several centuries.And since they have dominated the interpretation of the history of those events, such ineptitude has been systematically downplayed.

      According to a recent report in the FT, an address by David Davis to a group of German industrialists rapidly degenerated into farce. One member of the audience subsequently remarked to a journalist attending the event that Mr. Davis appears set to drag his own country down into poverty and ignominy.

      Right now, the preoccupation of our own political leaders is with the Border issue, and rightly so. It’s important that we capitalise on the EU’s prioritisation, however temporary, of the impact of Brexit on the irish economy, of which the Border issue is an important signifier. Perhaps ironically in terms of our own political history, the present government benefits from constructive support of the main opposition party in ensuring that the best interests of the country remain central in a difficult and tricky negotiating position within the EU, as well as in preserving historical cultural and economic ties, and goodwill, with our nearest neighbour.

      Over the longer term, beyond immediate trade and political impacts, I wonder about precisely what effect being surrounded by a plethora of ‘small nations’ in the future – as the UK breaks up, as appears inveitable – might have on our own prospects for success as a nation-state? For sure, it’s all hypothetical; but the obvious disadvantage we have is geographical and lack of contiguity with a major EU member state.

      Meanwhile, I’m happy to share my list of Irish ‘wazzocks’ for your’s. I have a feeling that there would be a reflection in our respective lists. I would hesitate to be too hard on our homegrown politicians right now, though. I don’t envy them the task they face.

Comments are closed.