Brexit Tax
European Union

Osborne threatens Brexit tax torment: Christians should remain transcendent

 

Brexit is greatly to be feared. At the mere possibility of the UK leaving the EU, the markets are in turmoil: shares have slid, sterling has slumped, and money is fleeing to the safe havens of the yen, dollar and German bonds. Some £98billion has been wiped off the FTSE 100 in just the past four days. The Chancellor George Osborne is in no doubt that Brexit would cause him to ditch all of the tax-and-spend pledges he made in the Conservative Party’s 2015 General Election Manifesto. Being prudent and wise, he must plug the £20billion black hole in public finances which leaving the EU would cause. And so we get the Brexit Tax.

So what?

In the Christian life, decisions of the magnitude of who governs the nation ought not to be taken on the basis of mundane matters like money. George Osborne frames the whole debate with financial ambition and greed: vote Remain or you will be poorer, and in that base threat is the inducement of fear. Brexit means impoverishment, torment and suffering.

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness… (1Tim 6:5).

The desire for wealth represents conformity to the gods of this world, for that desire can be seductive, that seduction idolatrous, and that idolatry dangerous:

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (vv9f).

The Chancellor threatens with money because we are a nation in love with it. Our wealth is not enough: our little must be more, and our much must be augmented. There is no end to the pursuit of banknotes and coinage: gain has become godliness. But, for the Christian, if we have food and clothing, we must be content (6:8). If we are not content, we risk becoming lovers of money, and that is the root of all evil, including the permanent surrender of accountable government and the nullification of democratic sovereignty. Our attitude should be one characterised by modesty and generosity:

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (vv17ff).

We can quibble over whether leaving the EU would precipitate economic apocalypse: economists are divided, so what do theologians know? George Osborne’s threat sounds spiteful and vindictive, but would a Brexit tax be such a bad thing? If it restored the people’s sovereignty, revived democracy and galvanised a new social reality, wouldn’t tuppence on the basic rate of income tax be a price worth paying?

Our kingdom is not of this world: George Osborne’s Treasury is not the Kingdom of our God and of his Christ: our treasure is in heaven, and the Lord will reign forever and ever. George Osborne will be gone tomorrow. Our personal sovereignty is provisional in the sovereignty of God, and our national sovereignty is not independent of God or immune from his judgment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer can wield his earthly power and punitive injustice, but the Christian must remain transcendent, for our citizenship is in heaven; not the European Union. There is no cultural activity or or economic event which can subjugate our faith to the totalitarian threats of liberal, secular man and his post-political apocalypse.

  • Anton

    Osborne and Cameron are at last being honest about the black hole in our national finances. Too bad that the reason for their honesty is a bigger lie, namely that Brexit is the cause of the black hole. I am not fooled and I shall do my utmost to communicate the truth to others before the Referendum.

    Tim Cross, the General who warned Blair two days before the invasion of Iraq that we would win the war but lose the peace without better plans, recently exhorted Cameron to “bugger off” over Brexit scare tactics like this and it remains fine viewing:

    http://news.sky.com/story/1701753/ex-general-tells-pm-to-bugger-off-over-brexit

    • IanCad

      Anton,
      Can’t pick up your comment from yesterday – email notification – but, referring to “forever and ever” My understanding is that the result of the punishment is final and forever.

      • Anton

        If you dispute that the phrase eis tous aionas ton aionon (literally “to the age of the ages”, ie for ever and ever) refers, among other things, to the duration of the ‘torment’ (basanismos) in Revelation 14:11 and 20:10 then your understanding of the Greek is incorrect.

        • Pubcrawler

          14.11 could just about be interpreted Ian’s way if you really wanted it to mean that. But I don’t see how 20.10 can.

    • bluedog

      Will it fall to the British Army to restore British democracy if Brexit prevails? One suspects that Cameron is quite capable of absolutely anything to frustrate the democratic will and prevent implementation of Brexit.

      • Anton

        I doubt that he would remain long as PM. But if Brexit is voted for and nothing happens then I am willing to take peaceably and repeatedly to the streets.

        • bluedog

          Interesting times. Brexit entails the dismantling of a very significant power structure within the UK, and they won’t surrender without a fight of some sort.

          • IanCad

            I don’t think the Remainers have the wherewithal to fight. Handbags and hankies at dawn?

          • bluedog

            The Remainians are the government and they currently control all the security agencies and the military.

          • IanCad

            We need a Second Amendment. It was adopted for such eventualities.

          • bluedog

            It all gets back to the El Pais interview in April 2013, where Cameron made an unguarded remark that he would act to frustrate Brexit if that was the result of the referendum. What did Cameron have in mind? How far would he go to achieve his objective? He has certainly had plenty of time to think the unthinkable and to plan.

          • Anton

            Gene Sharp wrote, some years ago, a remarkable booklet “From dictatorship to democracy” about how no government, no matter how totalitarian, can function without the tacit acquiescence of the people; so that the people can always remove a government if they choose. His booklet is in fact a how-to manual and he exhorts movements always to remain non-violent, because violence is the government’s strongest suit. Sharp distilled this book from his own lengthy academic study of non-violent resistance movements in history. Doing that is a test of the fortitude and resoluteness of a people, because there will generally be martyrs, often in large numbers. Sharp makes his book available free online in multiple languages; here is the English original:

            http://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/FDTD.pdf

          • bluedog

            Thanks.

          • IanCad

            Anton,
            A few days ago I was Googling something back in my distant memory, to the effect – “The King rules at the pleasure of his people.”
            I seem to recall it was of French provenance but couldn’t unearth it. Given your comment above, perhaps you can help.
            As we’re on a much different topic I’ll let the old thread die. Thanks for your response. I will take it under submission.

          • Anton

            It doesn’t sound like the French monarchy, which was absolutist until the Revolution and nonexistent from that point; perhaps during its brief restoration in the first half of the 19th century? I’ve found the quote, “The King of England is not able to change the laws of his kingdom at pleasure, for he rules his people with a government not only royal but also political.” This is the 4th sentence of chapter 9 of John Fortesque’s 15th century work On the laws and governance of England (1997 printing).

          • IanCad

            Thanks Anton,
            If I remember correctly, the quote did apply to an absolutist king. Surly peasantry and all that.

  • IanCad

    So YG! It is a question where the Remain claim we face poverty if we leave; conversely, the Leave say dishonour is the lot of those who choose to remain.

    Can’t resisit bringing Churchill into this. More particularly; to paraphrase his comment to Chamberlain after the signing of the Munich pact.

    “You were given the choice between poverty and dishonour. You chose dishonour and we shall become poor.”

  • So, if the plebs defy their rightful overlords, Osbo will deliberately crash the economy and blame them.

  • sarky

    Brings my favourite saying to mind:-

    ‘Short term pain, long term gain’

  • carl jacobs

    This argument sounds weak and desperate and petulant. It’s the kind of argument he wouldn’t make if he thought he occupied a position of strength. It comes across as “Do what I want or I will punish you.” That will likely backfire.

    But there won’t be a Brexit tax because the dirty little not-so-secret is that the Gov’t won’t act if Brexit wins. It simply wants Brexit to lose so it can say the issue is “resolved” once and for all. And it will say or threaten anything to achieve that outcome.

    This argument makes me think the Gov’t now thinks Brexit will win. And it is starting to panic.

    • Anton

      Makes me wonder what it will cook up next before Referendum Day – which, amusingly, almost exactly coincides with the release of Independence Day 2.

      The point about this particular argument is that there is already a hole in Britain’s government balance sheet, but Cameron is acknowledging it only now and trying to pin it on Brexit rather than upon himself. Question: Who has been PM for the last 6 years?

      • carl jacobs

        Independence Day was an awful movie. A virus? Really? What script writer thought that plot resolution was a good idea? The sequel therefore can only be worse for the quality of a sequel is accurately modeled by exponential decay with a very short time constant.

        • Anton

          I put it in the category of “good crap”. I enjoyed it, anyway.

          • carl jacobs

            I’m not sure Hollywood is capable of making good movies anymore. Where good is defined as “Not involving super heroes, robots, or CGI explosions.”

            Bring back Bogie. Bring back Film Noir.

          • sarky

            From last year, love and mercy (Brian Wilson biopic), southpaw??

            Both good movies and not a superpower in sight.

          • carl jacobs

            The problem is China. Hollywood makes more money outside of the US than in the US now. Robot/alien/super hero movies travel well across cultures. The industry is just following the market.

          • sarky

            Still some good stuff out there, you’ve just got to look a little harder!

          • Uncle Brian

            Bring back Mel Brooks.

          • carl jacobs

            Blazing Saddles was good, but suffers from the same fault as Holy Grail – it has no ending. It just sort of dissolves. None of the rest of his films grab me other than for the stray memorable line here and there. Although this …

            “Tracy, prepare the standard ‘rich and famous’ contract for Kermit the Frog and company.”

            That is sheer genius.

            OK, OK. So he only had a role in the movie and wasn’t involved in the scene. It’s still one of my favorite scenes of all time.

          • Uncle Brian

            You’ve reminded me of a great comedy from around the same period, The Italian Job, which has — among many other merits — an unforgettable last line of dialogue, spoken by Michael Caine as Charlie:

            “Hang on a minute, chaps. (Pause) I’ve got a great idea. (Pause) Er …”

          • dannybhoy
        • CliveM

          It was just a War of the Worlds rip off. Even the ‘virus ‘ was a rip off!

  • Royinsouthwest

    In a democracy it is the general public who punish the government, not the other way around. Osborne should remember that.

    • magnolia

      Too lost in his crony vortex bubble of the likeminded.

    • IanCad

      Unfortunately that generally happens only after the country concerned has been led into some disastrous war.

  • magnolia

    It’s a real Violet Elizabeth Bott on a bad day argument.

    The more of these they come out with the more and more hardened I become in my resolve to vote brexit. Bet I am not the only one.

  • Eustace

    The final few days of the campaign are when the financial implications of Brexit will start to sink in.

    Up until now, it’s all been hypothetical. What would I do if I were voting today? Now it’s starting to become real. The moment of truth is almost upon us and the decision we make will affect us – and our incomes – for generations to come.

    Despite philosophical and religious exhortations of an overblown and melodramatic nature, the British tend to vote with their pocketbooks rather than their hearts. The Scottish referendum was a case in point. The swirling rhetoric swayed some, but not enough. I believe we’re about to see the same thing happen again.

    • Royinsouthwest

      It is the EU with its massive youth unemployment problem and a currency that serves mainly German interests that has to worry about the economic effects of a Brexit victory. Other nations would probably also want freedom from the EUSSR.

  • len

    I dedicate this to the George Osborn and his mates;

    • michaelkx

      you got that tune in one…..how many people in this land will vote out just to get rid of those two?

  • Inspector General

    When will these political pygmies realise Britain and Britons cannot be bought. Nobody knows what Brexit will bring, but if we are going to save our country from millions of muslim migrants from North Africa, with freshly issued full citizenship EU passports in their pockets courtesy Germany, staying in is not an option. We can’t stop that lot coming in then. Against EU rules that is, don’t you know. And the EU does not reform. We know that now.

    Cameron’s regime cannot survive Brexit. He’ll be ousted by a coup as one doubts he has the integrity to resign. And Osborne will end up in the bin too on top of him. It’s true chaps – they could be gone as early as this July!

    Let’s go for it, what!

    Tally ho!

  • Inspector General

    Avi, dear chap. A personal message to you. Re other thread discussion. A fascinating subject without a doubt and one can rely on you to bring into such the unexpected. But alas, at the moment, the Inspector is poor company for you there. He is concentrating fully on Brexit, and other concerns have been placed on life support for the duration, so to speak.

    On Friday week, we may be hearing that this great country of ours has secured its biggest victory since El Alamein. It’s that important for those who care. A day the Inspector has looked forward to since the Soviet Union came crashing down and the EU, or whatever it was called then, lost its only legitimacy – as a bastion against Marxism and the Red Army.

    Our hopes are high as we go into the vote – and there’s never been a better time to break away either.

    To victory, that man!

    • Ha! Nearly missed this one. I stayed away from the discussion as Canada, while a Commonwealth, is not Britain. But I’ve been watching and allowed myself to cheer publicly once polls were nearly closed.

  • William Lewis

    It almost makes me want to vote remain, if only to remove more power from these Westminster, referendum terrorists. Indeed I’m sure that many EU citizens feel that the EU is a bulwark against their own, contemptible national parliaments.

    • Inspector General

      You too then, William, soured by Cameron…

      • William Lewis

        Yes. It’s been a while now, Inspector. Osborne is no better.

        • Merchantman

          Spot on. Its about power and money for Osborne and the ilk. The EU is a seductive master being run by unaccountable oligarchs and pretending to set up its own undemocratic state.

          • William Lewis

            Osborne is supposed to be a smart operator but his various budget cock ups and ridiculous manipulations of the Treasury to churn out ridiculous bunkum suggest a rather pedestrian politician on the make.

  • Dreadnaught

    This is a guest post by Martin right? …it is isn’t it?

    • carl jacobs

      That’s quite a compliment to Martin.

      • Martin

        I’d be far more aggressive.

  • grutchyngfysch

    I increasingly think I must be unique in not wanting to shoehorn Christianity into one camp or the other. I’ve just finished reading yet another bishop’s take on why Jesus wants us to vote Remain, and the only other thought I had besides “that was a silly thing to write” was that I don’t feel a burning need to say that “Brexit is the Christian thing to do”.

    The Christian thing to do is to make one’s mind up as honestly as possible, trying to balance the good of others above your own good. Some will come to one conclusion and others to another. Settle which it is, then get on with taking the Gospel to every corner of the earth.

    • Anton

      Agreed. One of our Elders suggested I give a short talk on the Christian view of this issue but I said that I saw the arguments on either side as essentially secular and that as someone committed to Brexit I would not be able to summarise both points of view.

  • preacher

    Oh what fun, just had grilled Cameron for dinner courtesy of a channel 4 news interview that left him spluttering, dodging & diving.
    Prior to that St Bob Geldoff was roaring defiance & false accusations at Nigel Farage, who was leading a fleet of hacked off ‘ out ‘ Southern fishermen in a demonstration to the Houses of Parliament. Some of the salty lads boarded Geldoff’s posh boat & told the ‘ remainers ‘ that they ought to try working on the boats & scraping a living like they have to. Most of the saintly ones supporters had fled ( probably gone to the galley for refreshments ) & the fisherman told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about & he’d never been to Southend, to which Sir Bob replied weakly ” Well we played down there once ! “.
    For desserts we had George O doing his impression of ” ‘Allo ‘Allo ” warning us of severe punishments if we didn’t vote as we have been ordered & accompanied by the Shadow Chancellor while they played Engine drivers on a new locomotive. Plus shifty Dave in Wales with someone from the Welsh Labour party ( Who were badly mauled by UKIP in the last General election ).
    I smell fear & defeat from the ‘ Remain ‘ camp as their campaign terror rises to fever pitch.
    What a laugh – better than a Brian Rix farce. LOL.

    • Inspector General

      Geldof ought to stick to what he knows best about – heroin addiction and death resulting…

      • chiefofsinners

        And as a non-UK citizen, what business is it of his anyway?

        • Inspector General

          Each time Geldof flies into Africa on his missions, he’s the richest man around for a long way. When he prepares to fly out again, he’s still the richest man for a long way.

          Repeat several times.

          Now, for a man who freely admits during his campaigning that he’s out to extract every penny he can out of people who listen to him, that is rather special, don’t you think?

          Should the Inspector ever come into great wealth, he can think of no better man to ask advice of when it comes to holding onto it…

    • Royinsouthwest

      It is not unusual for fading pop stars to play a role in politics but I much preferred Screaming Lord Sutch to Sneering Bob Geldolf.

      • Pubcrawler

        After Mr Geldof’s spectacular fail, I suppose the next faded pop star on Remain(dered)’s list would have to be Bono.

        • Royinsouthwest

          Both are from the Irish Republic but as far as I know Bono has not yet intervened in the Referendum debate.

          I think that both Geldolf and Bono were originally well-intentioned and I admired Geldolf’s response to the Ethiopian famine years ago. However, while aid is often necessary during crises it is not a long term solution to the problems of Africa.

          Neither Geldolf or Bono seem to have enough self-awareness to realise that there is something ridiculous about very rich entertainers posing as experts on the politics of poverty.

    • Old Nick

      I found this rather delicious also: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36541271
      Rees-Mogg on Osborne emergency budget

  • len

    The remain camp has overplayed their hand peaked too soon and can have very few threats left now. But in this process the Tory part is coming apart at the seams and Labour might as well not exist for all the good they can do….
    Where to now?.

    • Anton

      Corbyn has spent most of his political life as an anti-EU man and he makes entertaining viewing now.

    • preacher

      It’s rather like Custer’s last stand – no bullets left but still screaming defiance len.

  • chiefofsinners

    The AV rendering ‘the root of all evil’ ought to read ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’.
    There are other roots: Ambition. Fear of losing. Love of power. Desire to please one’s friends. Arrogance. Ignorance.
    George has many strings to his bow.

  • David

    Both Cameron and Osborne have discredited themselves in the eyes of many, if not most, people of this country.
    Bob Geldorf however has emerged as Lead Sneerer with Cameron and Osborne as mere apprentices. Top most callous threat though is from Osborne who has threatened to cut further disability benefits. Cameron undoubtedly takes the prize for Mr Mendacious. Oh what an ugly bunch we have amongst the great and the good.

    • Anton

      “Jesus was concerned with the poorest of his society. Our two Archbishops support the establishment.”

      What else do you expect from the Established church?

      • David

        Compassion, relevance ? Am I asking for too much ? You clearly think so.

        • Anton

          it’s about who you ask from…

  • The Explorer

    Referendum debate has been going on for a long time. At the moment, we are still in a state of speculation, but that will not always be the case. Next week, speculation will turn into knowledge.

    I spoke once with a woman who said that we can never know if God exists. That is not strictly true. The timescale, admittedly, is different, but if God exists then one day – individually first, but then collectively – speculation will turn into knowledge.

  • len

    If the democratic process reveals the public want to leave the EU then Osborn will punish the public for that. Who wants a Government that is this small minded and un- democratic ?. Osborn and Cameron must go whatever the results of the EU referendum.

  • Emily Walker

    Hi there! I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to share a recent blog post my husband and I wrote about this topic:

    Few could have imagined the events that are currently unfolding in light of the Brexit “earthquake”. It is said that many have changed their opinion after seeing the political and economic consequences that this decision has triggered, which cannot be fully understood at this time.

    Whole article:
    https://faithandencouragement.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/christians-and-the-question-of-voting/