Friday, December 23, 2005

EU Turkeys

It seems depressing to be writing about the EU so soon before Christmas. There's not an awful lot I can say about the craven surrender of Blair to the French that hasn't been covered already - no matter how unjustifiable the British rebate might be, it is far from the only matter of the EU budget that is unjustifiable. And to give it up with barely a promise in return, let alone no material benefit, is ridiculous, both from a national interest and an EU reforming point of view. Blair deserves to be roundly booed for that (although his defence of the deal in Brussels on Monday was excellent. Blair is a considerably better performer when it comes to foreign policy matters than on his shall-we-shan't-we approach to domestic matters).

The point I do want to raise is this, however - Blair gave an extra billion of our money to the EU without consulting the Treasury. This on top of £5 billion or so that we would have had at the start of next year had a deal not been agreed. Not having read the Labour Party manifesto in any great detail, I don't know what was said about the rebate. But I somewhat suspect that getting rid of so much money didn't really factor into Blair's figures. Therefore, I assume that the £7 billion that has just been given to the EU is a shortfall in finances from this year to next year. Either services are cut, or taxes are going to rise to cover this (especially as growth estimates seem to have been wildly inaccurate). Isn't this just a further example of Blair's hypocrisy when it comes to spending plans?