Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to be embarrassed again in a month that has already seen peccadilloes from other members of his party make the headlines. This time, however, the embarrassment is more suited to the world stage, as rebels within his own party have backed a Tory amendment introduced to make Cameron negotiate a budget cut from the European Union (EU).
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that as a mark of rising anti-EU sentiment in Britain, Tory lawmaker Mark Pritchard introduced the measure, which calls for Cameron to go up against the EU on a European Commission (EC)-proposed spending package of 1.033 trillion euros ($1.34 trillion) for 2014–2020, up nearly 6% over the 2007–2013 budget.
EU leaders are expected to try to reach agreement on the package at a Nov. 22–23 summit. Cameron has criticized it, saying that it is excessive when Britain is cutting back, and has said that he will invoke Britain’s veto for a second time unless he gets “a good deal.” The first time was in 2011, when he voted against the EU treaty for fiscal discipline.
In the report, Pritchard was quoted saying of the measure, “This is not an anti-European amendment. It merely represents the view of millions of U.K. taxpayers that the EU budget should not be increased at a time of financial austerity and fiscal restraint in the U.K. which has seen family, local council and government budgets cut.”
On Tuesday, highlighting the challenge it would be to cut the EU budget, poorer Eastern European countries protested a move to cut subsidies for farming and construction.
Still, feeling in Britain is running high on the matter. Conservative lawmaker David Davis, who in 2005 challenged Cameron for party leadership, was quoted saying that the EU budget plans amount to a “self-serving, inflation-busting bonus for Brussels. It would force Britain to pay an extra 1.3 billion pounds next year in annual EU contributions, on top of our existing 11 billion pounds. That’s a hike of more than 10%.”
The measure was set to go to a vote on Wednesday. Although the vote is not binding, Cameron could find himself once again left holding the bag in an embarrassing situation. Earlier in the month, Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell resigned for verbally abusing police and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was found trying to ride in a first-class train carriage with just a standard-class ticket.