29 OCT 2010
By Mark Hennessy | Irish Times
BRITISH EUROSCEPTICS: BRITISH PRIME minister David Cameron is facing a significant revolt from Conservative MPs if he accepts a budget increase for the European Union next year, even though he has already agreed with other EU leaders that it should rise by just less than 3 per cent, leaving the United Kingdom to pay an extra £430 million (€492 million) next year.
Mr Cameron has called demands from the European Parliament for a 6 per cent rise next year unacceptable, saying the budget should be frozen or cut, though the apparent confusion in London’s position – given that he has already accepted, in telephone calls with other EU leaders earlier this week, that he cannot stop a lower increase in telephone calls with other EU leaders – has riled Conservative MPs.
The UK’s contribution to the EU’s budget has risen dramatically in recent years following an agreement accepted by Labour’s Tony Blair in 2005 – from £3 billion in 2008/2009 to £4.7 billion in the year to last April, but it is to jump to £7.7 billion in this financial year, before jumping again to £8.6 billion in 2013/14 and £9.5 billion in 2014/15.
Reflecting the anger of Conservative Eurosceptics, Lord Tebbit said: “If parliament is indeed sovereign, then Mr Cameron should simply refuse flat to agree to any increase whatsoever in the EU’s budget. But he would do better to go down fighting than to surrender in some Vichy-style arrangement, pretending to hold on to sovereignty by agreeing to what Europe demands.”
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