Following much hot air from David Cameron he has revealed just what an empty vessel he really is.
Conceding defeat the prime minister told fellow European leaders ahead of today’s summit in Brussels that he accepts the £107bn EU budget will have to increase by a minimum of 2.9%, the figure already accepted by the European Council, reports the Guardian.
Cameron’s much vaunted telephone offensive which included Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European council about the budget obviously got nowhere.
David Cameron is revealing that he is no Margaret Thatcher and has failed to stand his ground. The Iron Lady famously stood up to the EU and negotiated a rebate for Britain which has endured to this day. Cameron, on the other hand, has thrown in the towel with undue haste.
It’s hardly surprising that the Tory Eurosceptics, who have been urging Cameron to fight for a freeze or a cut in the EU budget, are angry. They supported David Cameron because they thought he was one of them. Yes, Cameron did make sure the Tories in the European Parliament left the centre right European People’s Party to join up with a group of right-wingers whom Nick Clegg famously called a “bunch of nutters”.
However, Cameron is not delivering for the Eurosceptics now and they are not holding back in putting forward their point of view. Bill Cash, Peter Lilley and a host of others were very much in evidence in the Commons Chamber yesterday.
All this goes to show that when a politician does something for short term gain, such as Cameron promising anti-EU measures to get himself elected as Tory Leader, this will come back to bite him very hard when the day of reckoning comes and he cannot deliver his promises. While Margaret Thatcher did deliver hers, David Cameron is proving unable to do so.
Perhaps David Cameron’s assertion that Labour MEPs voted for the 5.9% increase in the EU budget which came before the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week was part of his plan to assuage his Eurosceptic wing. Who knows?
But what David Cameron said was incorrect. Labour MEPs voted against the final vote to adopt the EU budget. We were very sure that it was wrong at the present time to ask for such an increase in EU spending.
Fortunately Chris Leslie MP, one of Labour’s Treasury Spokespersons, was able to put this right in the Commons debate.
I wonder why Cameron got it so wrong. He does, after all, have an army of researchers at Number 10 and in Whitehall and the EU votes are published a few hours after the votes are taken. He also has several Conservative MEPs who would have known the score.
It could, perhaps be that he wished to discredit the Labour Party by putting out deliberate misinformation. If this is anywhere near the truth, Cameron and his Tory cohorts will brings politics further into disrepute and should be ashamed of themselves.
The European Parliament vote is important in the EU final decision making process on the budget. As a result of various decisions over the past few years, both the European Parliament and the European Council (the EU member state governments) have equal weight in coming to an agreement on the budget.
This means that although Cameron has accepted the 2.9% increase, this may not be the final outcome as negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council are currently underway to come to a compromise.
Despite all the brouhaha, the EU budget is not on the formal agenda of today’s European summit but will only be discussed in the margins. If the 2.9% increase is agreed, Britain will contribute an extra £435.2m. If a higher percentage is negotiated, Cameron’s coalition government may get even more than they were bargaining for.