British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered an embarrassing defeat in parliament last night after rebels in his own Conservative party joined forces with the opposition Labour party to thwart his plans to increase the European Union’s budget in line with inflation.
Although last night’s vote has legal weight behind it the setback will cast doubt over Cameron’s authority over the increasingly vocal anti Europe rebels in the Conservative party, reviving bad memories of Conservative infighting over Europe, an issue that cost John Major his job as the British PM.
Cameron’s desire to see the EU budget only rise in line with inflation angered rebel Tories who are demanding that he veto’s any increase and demand that the budget be cut to reflect the economic hardship facing many European nations.
The rebels motion won last night’s vote by 307 votes to 294 after receiving unexpected support from the Labour Party, a party who are generally pro-European and who appeared to use the vote as an excuse to put the boot into the government, Cameron accused them of ‘rank opportunism’.
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, and then vote for the amendment,” Conservative MP Mark Reckless, who spearheaded the rebel position, told MPs. “What this is about is our constituents’ money,” he said. “Parliament has spoken very clearly 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.”
Cameron will have a tough decision to make when he attends the EU budget negotiations summit in Brussels on November 22nd. He has said that he will veto any increase in the organisations budget but to the rebels that is not good enough. It is the first time the Prime Minister has lost a parliamentary vote at the hands of his own party.
“This is a time for Brussels to listen to the British people and do what we are all doing, and that is cutting our cloth,” Conservative lawmaker Mark Pritchard, one of the revolt’s leaders, told Sky News.
Currently the UK contributes €7.25 billion to the EU budget making it the sixth biggest contributor per capita. Every day, every UK citizen contributes up to €115. Currently the EU budget stands at a whopping €117.5 billion and its leaders are demanding an increase of 5%. At a time when EU backed painful austerity measures are crippling nations such as Greece, Portugal and many other nations the demand for an increase seems a little insensitive. The demand has angered the Cypriot government who is currently chairing the EU presidency and has called on the budget to be slashed by €50 billion.
As of 10:15 am
The Pound to Euro exchange rate is currently trading at 1.2485
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