EU budget vote: Rebel MPs defeat government over spending cut call

 

The moment the outcome of the vote was announced

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The government has been defeated in Parliament on the EU budget after 53 Conservative MPs defied their party over the issue.

Tory rebels joined with Labour to pass an amendment calling for a real-terms cut in spending between 2014 and 2020.

The coalition says the budget must be frozen in real terms as a very minimum.

The amendment, passed by 307 votes to 294, is not binding on ministers, but is a blow to David Cameron's authority on Europe before key talks next month.

The defeat, the most significant since the coalition came to power in May 2010, came despite efforts by ministers to woo rebels and Mr Cameron earlier saying he would veto any budget deal if he could not get a good deal for Britain.

The rebel amendment calling for a real-terms reduction in EU spending was passed after a stormy debate in Commons on the 27-member union's next seven-year budget and UK contributions.

The European Commission's proposed budget for 2014-2020 would see a 5% increase in spending on the current seven year period.

'Fed up'

What is the UK's net contribution to the EU?

  • The UK is one of 12 EU members which makes a net contribution to the EU budget - meaning it pays in more than it gets back in EU funding.
  • But there are different figures for what the UK's net contribution is depending on how it is calculated.
  • The EU financial year runs from January to December. The Treasury says that in 2011 the UK net contribution to the EU budget was £8.1bn. But for the UK financial year, running from April 2010 to March 2011, the Treasury says the contribution was £8.91bn.
  • The European Commission has a different figure. In 2011 it says the UK's net contribution was 7.25bn euros (£5.85bn; $9.4bn).

Government supporters said it would be "nigh on impossible" to negotiate a budget reduction given the lack of support among other EU nations and urged MPs to back Mr Cameron's call for an inflation-linked rise as the minimum acceptable outcome.

But Conservative rebels said Parliament would send a clear message and strengthen Mr Cameron's hand if they backed a spending cut.

"If you think the EU has too much money, its budget is too large and it needs to be cut, then vote for the amendment," Conservative MP Mark Reckless, who spearheaded the rebel position, told MPs.

After the vote, Mr Reckless told the BBC that the UK was "fed up" of giving more money to the EU every year and MPs had made clear a budget cut was the "only thing" they would accept.

"What this is about is our constituents' money," he said. "Parliament has spoken very clearly that unless there is a deal which is a cut in the budget which gives money back to taxpayers in this country, it will not get through Parliament."

Amid heated Commons exchanges, Tony Baldry - who was a minister in the government of John Major that was riven by splits over Europe in the 1990s - accused rebels of "self indulgence" reminiscent of past divisions.

"If this party hopes to be in government after the next general election it has just got to get a grip and start supporting the prime minister," he said.

But fellow Tory Conor Burns rejected analogies with the 1990s. "This is not Maastricht. The Conservative Party is united over Europe."

William Hague: "MPs on both sides wanted EU spending to be kept down"

'Toughest line'

Foreign Secretary William Hague said ministers would "take notice" of Parliament's views, which reflected the "real concern" among MPs and the public about the size of the UK's financial contribution to the EU.

"MPs on both sides of the argument wanted EU spending to be kept down as effectively as possible," he said.

"The difference in this debate is over the tactics. The prime minister has made it clear that we are already going for the toughest position that any prime minister has gone for in EU budget negotiations."

Start Quote

A government that is trying to deliver the toughest budget settlement in Europe in history is strong and purposeful and doing the right thing for the country”

End Quote William Hague Foreign Secretary

It was "hard to see" other EU nations agreeing to cut spending since most were net gainers from the budget, he added: "Yes, we would love it if that budget went down but all the other countries have a veto as well."

And he rejected suggestions that the defeat showed the government's weakness over Europe and the leadership's inability to control its MPs.

"I would say a government that is trying to deliver the toughest budget settlement in Europe in history is strong and purposeful and doing the right thing for the country."

He also accused Labour of "very cheap politics" by voting for a budget cut after supporting huge increases in EU finances over the last decade.

But shadow chancellor Ed Balls said there had been cross-party support for the idea of reducing EU expenditure at a time of austerity at home.

"It is not about party politics, it is about the national interest. Parliament has spoken and David Cameron has got to listen and deliver.

"He has to put the national interest first if he is strong enough. I fear he may be too weak."

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 527.

    522.Milton Keynes
    You hypocrite. One minute its all about the suffering if the EU fails and the next its all about you and your succesful business! What you really trying to say is the EU has made you money and everyone else can go stuff themselves!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 526.

    @ 464. Paul
    FYI, Eurovision is actually run by the Swiss... and all its stupid rules were basically set under their supervision.So again, come on guys, is it the EU (the problem) or we are simply looking for someone to blame for our domestic problems? Eurovision, EHCR - these are pan-European institutions and they have nothing to do with the EU. Leave Europe then? Destroy the Tunnel? Nonsense!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 525.

    Much frothing of mouth on here this morning - very little rational debate.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 524.

    The EU migration policy is a disaster for the English working class and has benefited only the elite of this country. Shame on labour for that you expect better from a working class party. Expect nothing from the Liberals or tories parties of big business why the tories are against the EU i don't know or care.Labour better improve or I will have to hold my nose and vote UKIP.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 523.

    494.EUprisoner209456731

    Has anybody got any news on the story that Merkel would boycott the next "EU"-summit if Cameron didn't do as he was told?

    //////

    Yes: it's a Big Lie.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 522.

    516.Paul
    No not really.
    //////
    Yes really. The EU was doing perfectly fine until the crisis hit. The only argument I need is the successful business I work for. Wouldn't be possible without the EU, but what would you know about that.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 521.

    It looks promising. Parliament is realising that Bruxelles does not have the interest of the UK, or even individual states at heart. It has the interests of the "EU Plan" at heart.

    Hopefully Parliament will grow further antagonistic towards the EU budget, & membership, as we the people have long ago become.

    I see the winds of UK independence from the EU beginning to blow within Westminster

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 520.

    Indeed-What is the rest of the EU saying? Its fine reporting the MP revolt but it does need a context v the EU.

    + I would like to see some REAL numbers. What do we all (EU) put in & what do we all get from membership?
    + how much does it cost to run the gravy train of 2 EU parliaments?

    At the same time DC is hosting a poverty conference- poor timetabling??

    The world is going quite quite mad.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 519.

    /// @ 506. shropshiregirl
    How can the "i vote Labour no matter what " brigade be serious, ///

    Just the same as the i Vote Tory no matter what" brigade do

    use your own brain and your own judgement, and decide on each issue.

    I am inclined to be Socialist in my outlook, yet I hate EU migration policy and the constant interference from the EU, in some ways I am more inclined to UKIP than Labour

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 518.

    507.Spindoctor
    @499. Milton Keynes
    So the people who comment on here are too dumb to understand...? Your arrogance is only outshone by your contempt for the rest of the people on here. Must be a Tory
    //////
    The Tories aren't right wing enough for me. And don’t pull the “speaking for all of us”. I only have contempt for the small minority of Anti-EUrs who want to get rid of my cheap labour.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 517.

    This rebellion signals the end of respect for the party of betrayal and its broken promises leader. It points to Britain's withdrawal from the undemocratic, corrupt and economically disastrous political fantasy of the EU.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 516.

    514.
    Milton Keynes
    And here's a prime example proving my point.
    ---

    No not really. Europhiles do everything to promote Europe but I have yet to hear a convincing, workable argument for it . The EU has been a catastrophe and one can give many reasons for it- it beggars belief that anyone could have a good thing to say about it. Their like little Neville Chamberlains who never learn.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 515.

    499 People who want the EU to fail should stick to the X factor.
    Don't think anyone who comes on here wants to see poverty and hardship but it's the EU thats inflicting that on the med and then has the hypocracy to refuse it's own medcine. Anyway only a fool joins a club where his membership fee is higher than other members. X factor not up to my musical taste.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 514.

    511.Paul
    1 Minute Ago
    499.Milton Keynes People WANT the EU to fail.
    -----

    HAHAHA..keep the jokes coming. Wake up, open your eyes and take a look. It already HAS failed!!!
    /////
    And here's a prime example proving my point.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 513.

    @People WANT the EU to fail. They want people to suffer. How immoral is that? Also, it disqualifies you from having a say on it, as the motivation is pure, hysterical and unfounded hatred, without any political or economic foundation. Stick to the X-Factor folks, that 's more your league.
    ---
    It says an awful lot more about them than it does about others. Some people are just sociopaths.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 512.

    MILTONKEYNES 499

    -The EU is failing..or haven't you noticed. It's run by a bunch of champagne socialists who were too busy living the life of luxury to do their jobs and now want us to pay more to rectify the situation. If you're so Pro-EU go live in Germany or France....an arrogant dictator like yourself will fit right in over there.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 511.

    499.Milton Keynes People WANT the EU to fail.
    -----

    HAHAHA..keep the jokes coming. Wake up, open your eyes and take a look. It already HAS failed!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 510.

    499.Milton Keynes
    Personally I think its immoral how the EU is making all those Greeks, Spanish, Italians, Irish, Portuguese suffer just to keep together a bankrupt currency which provides massive benefits to the rich northern economies.Rob from the poor and give to the rich.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 509.

    When the government cannot afford - or so it claims - to meet its duty of care to its own citizens, it cannot expect to be able to meet all its other obligations as well, and ought to be negotiating reductions in all other outgoings until it can fulfil its primary duty to the citizens who employ it.

    Did MPs actually put their constitutents before their party? A refreshing change!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 508.

    #483. Stewart
    The EuroOuts just want to leave the EU.
    It's the Universal Panacea for all the UK's ills in their view.

 

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