Here’s a trick we don’t think we’ve seen before. Another big Conservative backbench rebellion on increasing the EU Budget was avoided yesterday when the Government simply disagreed with the relevant EU Documents.
European ‘take note’ motions can be a pain – it was on a take note motion that John Major suffered one of his Commons defeats – but the Government appear to have decided that they can ‘take note’ of the motion whilst also disagreeing with it. The text of yesterday’s motion describes the Commision’s spending plans as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unrealistic’, as well as ‘too large and incompatible with the tough decisions being taken in the UK’, and says the proposed changes to fund the EU budget are ‘completely unacceptable and an unwelcome distraction’. And then takes note of them!
The full text:
That this House takes note of European Union Documents Nos. 12478/11 and Addenda 1 and 2, 12474/11, 12480/11, 12483/11, 12475/11 and Addenda 1 to 3, and 12484/11, relating to the Commission’s proposal on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), 2014-20; agrees with the Government, that at a time of ongoing economic fragility in Europe and tight constraints on domestic public spending, the Commission’s proposal for very substantial spending increases compared with current spend is unacceptable, unrealistic, too large and incompatible with the tough decisions being taken in the UK and in countries across Europe to bring deficits under control and stimulate economic growth, that the next MFF must see significant improvements in the financial management of EU resources by the Commission and by Member States and in the value for money of spend and that the proposed changes to the UK abatement and new taxes to fund the EU budget are completely unacceptable and an unwelcome distraction from the pressing issues that the EU needs to address; and supports the Government’s ongoing efforts to reduce the Commission’s proposed budget”.
Maybe this has been done before, but we can’t remember it. Anyway, it’s a neat trick to swerve what otherwise could have been a messy vote.