Deal! EU Budget Cut For the First Time Ever

Dave has got his deal, with the EU budget facing a real-terms cut. As seems to be the way nowadays, it was announced on Twitter:

Secretive European Parliament president and Labour ally Martin Schulz is livid – saying the deal has been done according to the “lowest common denominator” – which must be a good thing. Britain’s contribution is still going to rise, however. We await the details…

UPDATE: It is worth remembering that this is hardly a win for the British taxpayer:

Labour Ally Proposes Secret EU Budget Vote

The lengths MEPs will go to prevent transparency and usurp democracy never ceases to surprise Guido. The European Parliament is proposing to employ the unusual procedure of a secret ballot to prevent us from knowing which ways MEPs voted. Quite how they can justify not telling the public how they are voting when around £1 trillion of taxpayers’ money is at stake only Martin Schulz knows. Needless to say he is threatening to block the potential budget reduction as well…

Schulz, along with the po-faced Joseph Daub, is the centre-left President of the EP. Despised by colleagues for being one of the only MEPs allowed to claim his allowance without providing evidence he actually turned up for work, Schulz used to lead the Labour grouping in Europe and is still closely allied to the party.

Labour MEPs usually side with him on most matters in the EP,  but will surely they wouldn’t stoop this low? Would they?

UPDATE: Still nothing from Labour, but Dave has criticised the move this afternoon:

“I find it baffling. You send members to parliament, they vote, you see how they vote. I think that’s what parliaments are all about. When it comes to money it’s even more important to see how people are voting…I don’t understand secret ballots, parliaments should be open and transparent and people should be held accountable for how they vote.”

Dave’s Budget Triumph Success?

The noises from Brussels are positive this morning, the overnight negotiations have almost finished, the briefings and spinning has begun. In November the Commission’s demand for €973 billion was revised down to €942 billion. Final figure said to be as little as €908 billion – which would be a real terms cut. It should be borne in mind that in 2011 Britain was targeting a budget settlement of €886 billion, so €908 billion is not quite the unalloyed success that will be claimed by Downing Street. In fact it may turn out to be all smoke and mirrors. The only real test is will the British financial payment to the EU go up…

UKIP Members Are Bar Fighting Hooligans, Says Dave Ally

nigel

Every year swathes of boozed-up Brits cross the channel and wreak havoc on the continent. According to one of David Cameron’s allies in the European Conservatives and Reformists group, UKIP are the prime culprits. Derk-Jan Eppink isn’t happy:

“If they get drunk they get very dangerous. They present themselves as white knights but they are not. They are sort of hooligans, bar fighters…apart from Nigel Farage.”

In Guido’s experience they have been able to hold their drink. Well, most of them…

H/T @poljourno

Dave Backed From Poland to India, Just Not Backbenches

daveSome pretty unpleasant reading for Dave this morning: the plotters are hard at work and Lord Ashcroft says his big Europe speech has done little to boost his poll ratings. All is not lost though. The PM’s renegotiation, then referendum pledge has won the support of governments across the world. Poland’s ambassador sees no problem with Britain changing its relationship with the continent telling Ned Simons:

“We see a lot of room for manoeuvre. We all want a better functioning EU, respecting subsidiarity, and reducing its bureaucratic burden…I believe we can accommodate some British proposals.”

While the Indian finance minister goes further telling the FT:

“We have had historical relationships with the UK and I don’t think that will be affected whether you are in the European Union or not in the European Union…our relationship with the UK will only get stronger whether you are in the European Union or not.”

If only Dave’s own MPs were as friendly as foreigners…

Whips to Tory MPs: Bang On About Europe Please

In 2006 Dave told Tories to stop “banging on about Europe”, today he has written a script for his MPs to read out.

Evan Harris Onto Another Loser

Sour-faced LibDem are standing firmly on the wrong side of history. Yesterday saw the launch of Justice Across Borders, a Europhile campaign aiming to fend off plans to opt-out of the 130-odd Justice and Home Affairs powers drafted up in Brussels.

First Lord Carlile expressed his wish to be bestowed with the Order of the OTT by claiming the opt-out could lead to another European war. Then lucky guests were treated to a video by that bastion of freedom Charles Clarke. And just who is Justice Across Borders’ big name trustee? Swivle-eyed press-hater Dr Evan Harris. Guido’s spy notes that guests were not told the name of the generous benefactor who forked out for the cost of hiring the Churchill Room and laying on booze and nibbles. It’s like another Hacked Off…

What Loyal Tories Used to Say about In/Out

The airwaves are awash today with loyal Tories backing the PM and his speech. Though take a look at what they were saying on the 24 October 2011 when Cameron whipped his MPs against a non-binding motion urging the government to take up an In/Out Referendum:

Mrs Angie Bray:
Does my hon. Friend accept that although the country is undoubtedly interested in all matters EU, it is probably more interested in issues such as growth and jobs? Does he also accept that a referendum at this time would simply create uncertainty, which would hardly be conducive to attracting the foreign investors that we need to help with growth and jobs?

Mr Glyn Davies:
I think that to have a debate on a referendum would be a huge mistake while we in Britain must deal with huge financial and economic issues, along with another massive issue—the social dislocation felt by so many of our young people. A referendum on our future relationship

Mr Aidan Burley:
I must consider the impact that passing this motion would have on my constituents. That is the key point. Business men have told me that there are signs that give cause for optimism, but that the recovery is fragile. Those business men’s fear, and mine, is that the announcement of a referendum, involving the campaign extending to 2013 for which the motion calls, could have a devastating effect on business confidence and investment. This morning I spoke to a business man from my constituency who had come here to be given a tour of the House of Commons. He works for an international company in the private sector which has invested heavily in the United Kingdom and employs several hundred people in my constituency, and he has already been told by the members of his executive board in America that the potential further instability caused by a referendum could cause them to question future investment not just in Cannock Chase, but in the United Kingdom and the whole of Europe. At a time when business is crying out for stability, a referendum would move it in totally the opposite direction, creating yet more instability when what we need is foreign investment. While that business man would not oppose a referendum in principle, now is simply not the time for one.

Today: “Promise of an In/Out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will be welcomed across Cannock Chase today.”

Mr Robert Walter:
The world has shrunk. More than ever, we travel, we trade and we live in each other’s countries. In 1972, this House voted not only to be part of that common European future but to be an architect of its destiny as a full member of the European Community. The European Union is not a perfect form of government, but neither are the British Government, any Department of State or any local government. If that were the case, we would not be here; we would all be wasting our time. Europe needs Britain and Britain needs Europe. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary struck the right note earlier. We are in Europe, our history is European and our destiny is European. As far as I am concerned, we are here to stay and I beg my colleagues to reject the motion

Mr Tony Baldry:
Will the Prime Minister confirm that, at the last general election, the Conservative manifesto committed us to seeking to return powers from Europe on economic and social policy, but that nowhere did it contain a commitment to seek an in/out referendum or to seek to renegotiate our terms of membership of the European Union?

Mr Jake Berry:
I take this opportunity to put on record the fact that we must have a fundamental renegotiation of our relationship with Europe, but we do not live in a bubble, and we must pay attention to the crisis in the eurozone and to politics in our own country. The crisis in the eurozone is like a spark in Pudding lane. If we do not continue to support member states in supporting the euro and in sorting out the Greek problem, the fire will rip through the City of London and our entire economy. A vote today to put in doubt our membership of the EU for up to 18 months would fuel market speculation, fatally wound the eurozone and its economies, and have exactly the same effect here in the UK.

Today: “Nick Clegg promised an in out referendum at the election. What’s changed mind? #UnitedConservativeParty”

Ms. Charlotte Leslie:
The motion is tragically timed, because it pits against each other the equally valid causes of ensuring that security and stability are maintained during a great euro crisis that will affect us here in the United Kingdom—even the discussion of a referendum on leaving the European Union will contribute to that instability—and giving the people the voice that they have been denied for so long in the determination of our role in Europe. It is a shame that that conflict has arisen today, but it makes our referendum lock and the conditions surrounding it all the more important.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind:
I say to the House that we cannot constrain the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister in the incredibly difficult negotiations that will take place. To have a debate that might lead to a referendum on whether Britain will remain in the European Union or leave it entirely is such a massive distraction from the real concerns that this country and the rest of Europe have to address. [ Interruption. ] I am sorry, but I am entitled to my view, just as all my hon. Friends are entitled to theirs.

Guido never forgets.

+ + + Ed Miliband Says No to Referendum + + +

“My position is no – We don’t want an in out referendum”

Ed Miliband 23 January 2013.

The Leader of the Opposition used PMQs to put himself on the wrong side of history.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Cameron’s Letter to Tory MPs Post-Speech

speech-letterFull letter [PDF] here.[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Reaction

Lots of early risers this morning:

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Cameron Speech: the Meat

“The next Conservative Manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative Government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next Parliament. And when we have negotiated that new settlement,

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Janan Ganesh on Labour’s soft left

“Ms Cooper does not believe the previous Labour government was wrong to run a fiscal deficit after 15 years of economic growth. Both she and Mr Burnham think families should be entitled to tax credits for a third child. These views are not mad. They are just a bit too left-wing for Britain. For any serious party, that amounts to the same thing. The soft left is more electable than the hard left but then Mars is more habitable than Neptune: neither planet will host human life anytime soon.”

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