Glory Be, the European Commission is mulling over the imposition of a policy which creates the perfect form of taxation for us here in Britain.
You see, the problem with tax - any tax - is that it's a cost. Sure, we can buy such lovely things with the money raised but we also lose those things we would have had if the cash hadn't gone off to the Revenue. The answer to this is, of course, that them over there pay the tax while we get the spending. As Monty Python put it:
Politician: Bravo, Madge. Well done. Taxation is indeed the very nub of my gist. Gentlemen, we have to find something new to tax.
Man In Bowler Hat (Terry Jones): To boost the British economy I'd tax all foreigners living abroad.
Well, yes, why not, and that's just what is being proposed:
Brussels could seek the moral high ground by covering the application costs of EU nationals who want to stay in the UK after Brexit, under proposals being discussed at the highest levels of the European commission.
The UK Home Office has threatened to charge a £72 fee for applicants seeking so-called “settled status” in the UK, which grants them indefinite leave to remain. Applicants will have to demonstrate five years’ continuous residence and pass a criminal record test.
It has emerged that the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has expressed sympathy with a suggestion that Brussels could cover the fees if the UK does not make a more generous offer during further negotiations this year.
According to EU sources, Juncker agreed in a meeting with the European parliament’s Brexit steering group to personally take up the issue of the charges with Theresa May. However, he is said to have recognised that Brussels may need to look at funding the costs through the EU budget.
If that fee were being paid by those Europeans who wish to stay in the UK post-Brexit then we'd want to make sure that it is such a modest sum just to cover the cost of the paperwork. However, look what happens when it is the EU budget which covers it.
We here in Britain won't be contributing to EU coffers post-Brexit (well, not if anyone's got any sense we won't). If that budget is picking up the cost then the applicants won't be paying it either. So none of those will be discouraged by whatever the rate is. But the sums raised will be contributions to the UK budget, those contributions being paid by those who are still taxpayers chipping into the EU budget.
That is, the money will be spent upon us and it will be, by definition, foreigners living abroad who are paying the tax. It's the perfect form of taxation therefore.
At which point, why be pikers about this? £72 a head? Why not £720,000 a head?
Yes, sadly, it's not going to happen. But we can dream, can't we?