The European Union agreed its budget for 2020 yesterday and is relying on UK continued payments until the end of next year.

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According to the latest EU budget requirements, the UK will continue to pay into the Brussels coffers until the end of 2020 as if it were still a full member, despite our Brexit date being set as the 31st of January 2020.

But of course this is all set out in the Boris Johnson Withdrawal Agreement as part of the transition period where we still have all the responsibilities of being a full member – i.e. that of paying in – but none of the rights.

Once this budget has been formally rubber stamped by the EU Council and EU parliament it will be set.

Now, let's give this a moment's thought shall we.

We are full members of the EU at the moment and one assumes we have been fully involved with putting this budget together and with agreeing it.

Does that therefore mean the UK is now tied into paying into the Brussels coffers under international law – even in the now unlikely event we end up leaving without a deal on the 31st of January?

Just a question.

So, given that in all probability we will be participating in this 2020 budget, the main points of it are that:

the budget is obviously based on the premise that the UK will continue to contribute into the budget until the end of 2020.

The commitments part of the budget, which "…are the legal obligations to spend money that are signed in a given financial year. Legal obligations can be contracts, grant agreements and decisions. The amounts are not necessarily paid out in the same year but may be spent over several financial years", and this has been increased by 1.5% compared to 2019 to €168.69 billion.

And the Payments side of the budget that covers expenditure due in the current year, which arises from legal commitments from the same or earlier years, has increased by 3.4% to €153.57 billion.

Now, 21% of the budget will go to addressing climate change.

EU farmers will get €58.12 billion.

The EU Galileo satellite system will get €1.2 billion, a 74.7% increase on 2019 to "…expand its worldwide market uptake to reach 1.2 billion users by the end of 2020". And remember, once the UK leaves the EU they don't want us anywhere near it, despite having paid into the system.

So the Eurocrats have obviously made no moves to cut their cloth in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU.

This has led Germany to expect to have to just about double its own contributions into the EU pot to somewhere between €29 and €33 billion for the new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) post 2020.

And the Irish PM, Leo Varadkar, has predicted that his country will see a steep rise in its contributions as well.

The EU Commission has put that in the region of a net contribution increase from €315 million a year to €760 million.

Varadkar said:

"We are okay about that. As a country that was a net beneficiary of the EU budget, we are going to become a net contributor, but what we gained from the EU is much greater than what we contribute financially."

He might not be saying that as that net amount grows in the coming years, while more countries receive EU funds in order to bring them up to the standard to become members of the EU club.

Moving on, what would a general election report be without a poll?

The latest poll from Kantar out today, mirrors other recent polls.

It sees the Tories leap by 8 points to 45% to now lead the Labour Party by 18%.

Labour remains unchanged on 27% and the Lib dems have slipped a point to now stand on 16%.

But the Brexit Party has slumped by 7 points to just 2%.

On this Kantar said:

"The very large (8 point) increase in Conservative support since our last poll is almost wholly at the expense of the Brexit Party. Nigel Farage's decision to stand down candidates in Conservative-held seats appears to have sent a message to supporters. Only 3% of likely voters selected the Brexit Party even when the choice was unconstrained by candidate availability."

And according to the Guardian, Nigel Farage is saying that there may well also be unofficial deals going on between his party and the Tories in the run up to the general Election.

After an election rally in Peterborough he said:

"This is an election in which there are remain deals being done and Brexit deals being done at local level. It's not particularly surprising.

"I'm aware of some areas in which we may be trying very hard and they [the Conservatives] may or may not be trying very hard, and in the neighbouring seat it might be the other way round. I'm aware of it. But I can't manage it."

Now Sky News is reporting that The Brexit Party is under investigation by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for failing to hand over personal data it holds on voters.

This seems to date back to the EU parliament elections where The Brexit Party, just like all political parties and candidates are entitled to do, used their legitimately obtained copy of the electoral roll to send out leaflets to voters by name to their home addresses.

But, knowing this, pro-EU campaigners got onto social media and urged their supporters to send Subject Access Requests (or SARs) to The Brexit Party demanding to know what data they had on them, how they got it and what they intended to do with it.

And the aim here was of course to disrupt electioneering by The Brexit Party as well as tie up its resources and money.

The Brexit Party says the ICO has given it a deadline of the 22nd of November to deal with any remaining SARs, which the party says it will meet.

Now can you imagine the absolute anger and condemnation from the Remainer press, campaigners and politicians had the Leave side engaged in such activities?

In other news, the Green Party has issued its manifesto …. but, so what?

But the news later this evening and tomorrow will be dominated by the Boris Johnson versus Jeremy Corbyn General Election debate.

A debate where Brexiteers will hope Boris tears the Labour party leader's unfathomable Brexit plan to shreds, but where the Corbynistas will hope that their beloved leader can gain some ground on the runaway Boris campaign train, by peddling the vision of a Labour led country being the land of free stuff.

The hour-long clash at the MediaCityUK studios in Salford with an audience of 200, is due to take place at 8pm tonight on ITV1 and it will be moderated by Julie Etchingham, who has the experience of overseeing the 2015 and 2017 election leadership debates.

It appears that Corbyn has elected to speak first.

And pundits are pointing to the obvious debating points that the two will tussle over being Brexit, the NHS and the economy.

ITV says that the pair will be faced with questions from viewers that "broadly reflect a range of society, from different political backgrounds".

This is the first two party head to head ever conducted on TV and the four leaders of the smaller parties – Joe Swinson of the Lib Dems, Nicola Sturgeon for the SNP, Nigel Farage of the Brexit Party and Sian Berry of the Greens – will instead be interviewed after the debate at 10pm.

This has upset the Lib Dems and the SNP who tried to get the courts to force ITV to include them in the debate with Johnson and Corbyn – but they lost their case.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will have a second head to head go at each other on the BBC on the 6th of December.

If the weekly PMQs is anything to go by, then it will be a boisterous and amusing Boris against a grandstanding and stern looking Corbyn.

Anyway, what do you think? – Please share and comment – and thank you for watching.

Sources:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6280

https://facts4eu.org/news/2019_nov_eu_spends_uk_money

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/taoiseach-predicts-steep-rise-in-ireland-s-contribution-to-the-eu-budget-1.4084499

https://news.sky.com/story/brexit-party-under-investigation-for-failing-to-hand-over-personal-data-11864790

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/nov/19/general-election-2019-nhs-labour-conservatives-tories-corbyn-johnson-swinson-sturgeon-tv-debate-brexit

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