French attempts to cut UK EU rebate 'unacceptable'

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Moves by France to cut Britain's EU rebate were "categorically rejected" at the recent EU summit, Prime Minister David Cameron has told MPs.

Mr Cameron described the move by the French as "frustrating" and "frankly unacceptable", as he updated the House on the two-day June summit, and on Afghanistan.

The prime minister said French officials wanted to remove Britain's rebate on agricultural spending in new member states, which could have cost British taxpayers more than "£1.5bn".

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said Labour supported the agreement on the EU budget and the rebate, as he responded to the statement on 2 July 2013.

Addressing the Commons, Mr Cameron said: "We will continue to get the rebate in the years ahead on the same basis we do now. It is fair, it is right."

Mr Miliband made light of Mr Cameron's "flowery" language, after he said at the summit, "In this town you have to be ready for an ambush at any time and that means lock and load and have one up the spout".

"I have to say it sounded more 'carry on up the council' than 'high noon'," Mr Miliband joked.

Responding, the PM said he had to take a tough approach because 27 other countries, including the European Parliament president and European Commission, "want to get rid of the rebate".

Labour's approach to negotiation is to "go in with your hands up and a white flag", Mr Cameron quipped.

On Afghanistan, the prime minister said he welcomed plans for the US to begin direct talks with the Taliban.

"The peace process must be Afghan-led but we should do all we can to support it. It does not signal any weakening of our security response but if we can persuade people that there is a legitimate political path for them to follow, we should do so," he said.

His comments came following a visit to UK troops in Afghanistan on Armed Forces Day.

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