The call in the Times this morning from Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls for a “real-terms cut” in the EU budget would have been uncomfortable enough for the PM, who is proposing an by-inflation rise, if it were not for a coordinated sting from his own party. Leaving aside the irony of Labour jumping on this bandwagon after a decade and a half of surrendering the rebate and rubber stamping vast increases in the EU budget, a perfect storm is brewing for the PM.
When the tediously titled “EU budget simplification and the multi annual financial framework motion” reaches the Commons on Wednesday, both Mark Reckless and Mark Pritchard, the doyens of the new Tory awkward squad, are throwing very large spanners in the works. Pritchard’s amendment will call for no rise at all, while Reckless will argue for a cut. A purple plot is forming with Labour going through the lobby with the Tory rebels. A source close to the fun and games on the Tory side coughed this morning that the storm is “not entirely uncoordinated.”
UPDATE: Reckless has written at length on the plan:
“I and other Conservative colleagues are supporting an amendment to say that there must be at least some constraint on EU spending. Although many of us would wish to see a substantial reduction in EU spending, at least in line with cuts at home, today we are only asking the government to strengthen its stance so that there is some real terms reduction in the EU budget.”
Which is pretty much what Labour said this morning…