I’ve just been emailed the Tory whips office script for the European budget debate later today.
It will be interesting to see which ambitious MPs choose to deploy the script from the whips in today’s debate on Europe:
“We would love to see real cuts to the EU budget; we are going for cuts to the CAP, to the EU’s admin budget and to the recycling of money that happens when the EU gives regional funding to relatively rich countries. But we’ve consistently targeted a real terms freeze in the next multi-year EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework/MFF) because that’s the best deal we can actually deliver for British taxpayers.
“We can veto this – and we will if we don’t get a real terms freeze: no deal is better than a bad deal – but the veto won’t leave us in the best place. If there’s no agreement then ultimately we move to annual budgets, decided by qualified majority voting and jointly with the European Parliament. It can only go up so much but it could cost British taxpayers more than now.
“A real terms freeze would still be an unprecedented achievement, the toughest EU budget settlement ever. There has never been a real terms freeze from one MFF to the next before – the current one is 8% bigger in real terms than the last. And we’re also going to block any changes to the rebate and any new EU taxes.
“It is crucial that Parliament sends the message that there should be no changes to the rebate and no new EU taxes, including an EU-wide FTT.
“Hard economic times make this a tougher negotiation, but we are sticking to our guns – no more than a real terms freeze or veto. And we are using the ceiling on the budget to put pressure on things really in need of reform, like the CAP.
“Labour are being completely opportunistic and hypocritical about this. In Government they signed off bigger EU budgets and gave away £7 billion of our rebate. Their MEPs are calling for more EU spending. Their Socialist Group allies are calling for new EU taxes, abolition of our rebate and a bigger EU budget. Now, suddenly, Labour are allegedly in favour of a smaller EU budget. That has zero credibility. This is as an opportunity to prove Labour has no principle, consistency or credibility.”