After the Second World War, European countries kept their gold reserves in the Bank of England. After Brexit, the return of those bars that are supposedly still in London’s vaults would “powerfully” affect the future of Europe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said in a threatening tone. It could have a very serious political impact on both sides of the Channel. London would allow the gold to leave only if it wins favourable terms in negotiations to leave the European Union.
Russia’s demands to pay in roubles or gold for all its exports could also lead to a conflict between the UK and the EU, probably resulting in NATO’s first internal confrontation.
It is possible that, at the behest of the United States, the London government will want to put pressure on the EU, but it is also possible that it will not be able to return the gold because it has spent all or part of it. It is likely that, if Brexit negotiations do not progress, EU member states, individually or collectively, will demand a detailed audit of the gold reserves in the Bank of England’s vault.
That takes a long time, which is a perfect excuse to delay Brexit negotiations, while the reserves remain under the sole control of London, not Brussels.
If EU countries demand the immediate repatriation of at least part of their gold reserves, and if they do so simultaneously, they could create a lot of problems for the British government, which would drag its feet while negotiating Brexit-friendly terms.
Continuing with the conjecture, if the UK pays Russia with gold, the EU would think it is doing so with its reserves.
The case of Venezuela has been a warning to sailors and in Brussels they have their noses to the grindstone. Germany is another example. It had to wait five years to repatriate some of its gold and never recovered any of the bullion originally deposited.
If there is any gold bullion left in the Bank of England, there will be fights to share it out because there are many in the world who have gold certificates of deposit, but there is not enough gold for all of them. They call it “paper gold”, which is something like fiat money.
There is more paper gold than bullion because the depository banks have spent it, or pawned it. The exact proportions are not known because everything is secret, but there is only one bullion for every 100 certificates. Naturally, the fight will be over the actual bullion, not the papers. The owners of the papers will lose much, if not all, of their gold.
Western central banks have used gold certificates to control commodity prices and protect their currencies by pretending that they have not been devalued (*).
European countries will fight the British for gold and will also fight each other for every gram left in London’s coffers. The US Federal Reserve will side with the Bank of England, because they have the same problem: they have never been audited and there is more paper than physical gold bullion.
Britain and its US bosses have the upper hand and welcome anything that is trouble for the European Union. It is the only way to get them to go along with their provocations towards Russia.