An Empire On The Cheap? Or How Not To Pay Your Taxes?
The British Empire has a certain resonance to the Brits, and remains a popular historical myth within the wider public discourse, that longing for a bygone age when Brits could survey the world and take any bits that took their fancy.
Ascension Island was one of them, a lump of rock in the Atlantic, but the near terminal decline of the British Empire and penny-pinching in Whitehall have yet to embarrass the British into paying the taxes that they owe, the Times has more:
“Unless the Ministry of Defence pays millions of pounds in unpaid taxes for its RAF airbase, the island will be bankrupt by June. The only school will have to close, the hospital will have no doctors, the few shops, one hotel and fledgeling tourist trade will be unviable. Even the conservation programme will have to be abandoned.
The threat comes because the MoD is determined to cut costs to pay for Afghanistan. Its refusal to pay back-taxes on the airbase that Britain shares with the US has left Ascension with a £900,000 deficit on its £6 million budget. The island’s small council and government, responsible for all services to the 900 inhabitants, have cut spending to the bone.
Unless a deal can be done in Whitehall, Britain’s strategic asset in the South Atlantic may soon become no more than a barren fortress, the function it first had when troops arrived in the 1820s to prevent a French fleet from rescuing Napoleon. “
Oh, the Brits and their pith helmet style diplomacy.