Daily Archives: December 1, 2010

One of the more heartening exchanges in the Wikileaks files involves Alistair Darling, the then chancellor.

After a worthy discussion about bank bonuses and financial regulation, the US ambassador delicately turned to the most important issue of the day: tax breaks for US diplomats.

Ambassador raised the new embassy project at Nine Elms, noting that the $1.2 billion project would spur redevelopment of a blighted area and create jobs.

He said that as a matter of principle, the UK should not impose value-added tax on the construction of a chancery building.

Well, as you can imagine, this suggestion didn’t go down brilliantly with Darling.

Darling responded that the government could not exempt the project from VAT, citing the recession, tight budget and elections.

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As it’s prediction season, here goes… My crystal ball, for what it is worth, foretells political and economic union between France and Germany, perhaps within the next 12-24 months. Europe needs a gamechanger, one that creates an insurmountable firebreak against the speculators. Crises have historically been the motor of European integration and a full union, much like the panicky one Britain offered France in June 1940, might look tempting. It would provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies, finally fulfilling the founding fathers’ dream of “ever closer union”. Read more