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Government suffers humiliating defeat on EU budget

31 October 2012

The government has just suffered an embarrassing defeat on the EU budget. The rebel amendment, which called for a cut rather than the real terms freeze David Cameron is proposing, passed by 307 votes to 294.

There are, I think, three significant consequences of tonight’s vote. First, it has been yet another reminder that David Cameron can barely control his party when it comes to Europe. We’re waiting for the precise number of Tory rebels tonight but it seems like about 50 MPs defied the whips. This means that if Labour is prepared to join with the Tory rebels, it can overturn the coalition’s majority.

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This is the second lasting consequence of tonight, it will have strengthened the hand of those in the Labour camp, especially Ed Balls, who argue for more alliances of convenience with Tory Eurosceptics to defeat the Prime Minister. Expect Labour to try and turn the vote on the actual EU budget, if one is agreed, into another—and more significant—defeat for the government.

Finally, tonight is yet another reminder of the limitations of the Tory whipping operation. Up until this evening, the fastest a Tory chief whip had lost a vote in the post-war era after assuming the job was 40 days—John Wakeham became chief whip on the 9th of June, 1983 and the government was defeated in the lobbies on the 19th of July. But Sir George Young has lost a vote less than two weeks after taking on the job.

In the whips’ defence, it should be noted that they were corrected on the level of the rebellion—telling Number 10 this afternoon that the vote would be lost—and that they can only play the hand they’re dealt. But it is hard not to wonder if a more nimble and respected whipping operation would have contained this rebellion more effectively.

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  • Barbara Stevens

    The truth is no state is tied to the EU if it chooses to leave, it can. It does not have to have permission to do so, it can simply walk away. Obviously any country would have to ask its electorate to make the right decision. Its quite clear many in this country are not satisfied with the status quo, and want change. Its costing far to much money, and they refuse to even look at cuts, yet make laws that cost countries millions. Take the benefits for immigrants or refugees, we cannot afford to pay these people money, why should taxpayers here be forced to. Ilegal immigrants believe this is the land of milk and honey, they are so wrong. The simple truth is we’ve had enough and its time to stop the rot and stand up for what we want for the UK, if they don’t like it over the channel then so be it. Has for Clegg, he’s wrong completely on the wrong wave length, no wonder he’s polling only 5% in the polls, the lower it gets the better. The people of Sheffield must be feeling foolish having this man to represent them, lets hope they rectify that situation at the next election. If he likes Europe that much he’s free to leave any time. Go on do us all a favour. Cameron would be delighted I bet.

  • Frank Hampson

    I’m English to the core, even though I have lived in Germany for the last thirty odd years and will die here. The EU is a force for good no matter what little Englanders may say. or do, An instance is my entirely trouble-free visit to friends in Romania this spring, Imagine that (either the friends or the visit) twenty-odd years ago.

  • David B

    Ok Cameron has now been handed a defeat but he has been handed an opportunity

    1. Do what the public want and call for a reduction in EU budget. – use the veto if he does not get it and make an announcement that he is only following the will of the commons
    2. Wait and see how the pro EU Millabend reacts as he has now created his own hostage to fortune by voting for a policy he does not want

  • Richard

    No analysis of where this leaves Labour then?
    Miliband has just torn up the position crafted by Blair in 1997 – is it back to the Michael Footure?

  • English Man

    O happy day!

  • Yiftertheshifter

    I never thought the Guardian and Spectator could be gloating over the defeat!! That is what is happening now. OMG, both agree that there should be a government led by Red Ed it appears!!!

  • Yiftertheshifter

    UKIPs and Euroseptics cannot win a single vote by acting as one-trick blind pony. They deserve when Red Ed comes to power, let in millions more immigrants from Africa and Asia to create their voting fodder, restore the benefits for all including those who come in this minute into this country, and take us into Eurozone. We have set the scene for 13 years of Labour. Thanks for these 50 or so Euroseptics.

    • Arthur Dent

      So that’s it, vote for Cameron because we don’t want Ed?
      Vote for someone who does not represent your views?
      Vote UKIP.

      • Yiftertheshifter

        UKIPs can’t deliver but can take vote away to put Red Ed in no10. It is clear as the day light.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Might have been a good idea for the Conservative Party to elect a competent Eurosceptic as Leader then – instead of the incompetent, pro-EU, liberal-CON they chose.
      Might have been a good idea if Cameron and Osborne had actually set out to WIN the last General Election – instead of aiming for a coalition with Clegg.
      Might have been a good idea if Cameron had accepted the deal Nigel Farage offered.
      Cameron has continually called the shots wrong. We are sick and tired of the EU running our country and we want it back.

      • Yiftertheshifter

        Might have been a good idea if Farage does not go to lapdancing clubs, also a good idea if he did not ranted about EU and listened to voters and not let in Bercow.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          English isn’t your first language obviously, Shirtlifter. Could you please get someone to help you with that?

      • Mirtha Tidville

        Too true

    • Mirtha Tidville

      Oh do grow up

    • ArchiePonsonby

      I recognise you as the night shift for Hook’s Law and I claim my £5!

  • 700islands

    You miss a key point, the nation’s position on Europe has moved and now, somewhat later, the position of the House of Commons has also moved in line with the popular view. This is yet another example of how Britain is moving away from the EU. We are the only nation where the people are demanding a cut in the budget (perhaps because we are the only large nation that actually gives more than it receives back. Germany may be a net contributer but its Treasury makes a net tax gain due to its trade surplus with the EU. Germany gets all its contribution back and more).

    Cameron will now either have to veto the budget or drag the negotiations out for such a long time that it amounts to the same thing. All the talk of the “meaninglessness” of a veto will then start. All the smarty-pants people will make fun of him and our isolation, without understanding that that reality only fuels our desire to be done with it all.

    The truth is that if Britain is to stay in the EU it can now only be on new terms.

  • chudsmania

    Stuff your whipping arguments where the sun doesnt shine , MP’s are there to represent us , the constituents , not the PM . What is rebellious about reflecting the opinions of said constituents ?

    • JamesdelaMare

      No, not quite (despite the popularity of your comment). MPs are representatives of the voters sent to parliament not as voters’ delegates, but to govern the country. If they think the prevailing feelings or wishes of voters are wrong or damaging to the country, they are quite entitled to make decisions the voters may not like. That has always been the situation, misunderstood though it often is.

      However the problem is that the MPs themselves are under the control of the political party they have to belong to in order to get elected, and it’s there that the fault is. They cannot exercise and vote by their own judgement.

  • Douglas Carter

    ..’ if a more nimble and respected whipping operation would have contained this rebellion more effectively’…

    Personally, I don’t recall having ‘The whips’ as a box available to me when I approved my chosen candidate at the last election.

  • Yiftertheshifter

    So these Tory Euro septics show a divided party and let in Labour Next time so that Red Ed can link with his Socialist Chum Hollande, and we wait for another 13 years after
    Labour take is into Eurozone? What morons these septics are! They never learn.

    • Douglas Carter

      The ‘morons’ are those who know a Party is waiting in the wings to harm the UK with pro-EU policy, and who have the facility to do something about it, but refuse to invoke preventative legislation to preclude it.

      • Yiftertheshifter

        You are incredible as Farage is. This country deserves Labour and EUzone and Euro.

        • Douglas Carter

          ‘Incredible’ are those who have the facility to block EU encroachment, but refuse to invoke the competence to do so.

          • Yiftertheshifter

            You can argue all you want. People like you are those who let in Labour. Thanks for turning this country into Socialist, what fools you are.

            • Douglas Carter


              I can argue.

              In your case, all I see is drivel.

              Did you have an actual argument to forward?

              • Yiftertheshifter

                You are a UKIP and hence drivel comes naturally to you!

                • Douglas Carter

                  ‘Do you have an ACTUAL argument to forward’?

                • Yiftertheshifter

                  I have posted arguments. UKIPs do not notice them!!

                • Douglas Carter


                  There’s only dribble under your name here?

  • DavidDP

    So, the sum result of this was to damage the government, strengthen Labour, while having no effect on the budget negotiations.

    Oh yes, very good job, chaps. Top strategy there.

    • Douglas Carter

      Nature abhors a vacuum.

      David Cameron’s EU policy is the very definition of a vacuum.

    • Yiftertheshifter

      You are arguing with UKIPs the bacteria.

      • Douglas Carter

        Then tell me ‘Dave’s’ EU policy?

        It can’t be difficult?

  • David V Smith

    Not much the whips could do. A lot of newer Tory MPs got in to politics because of Europe. The Prime Minister has been appalingly bad at showing leadership, and the people are on the side of the rebels.

  • Robert_Eve

    Another small step towards leaving the EU.

    Bring on the remaining steps.

  • Steve Tierney

    Good outcome.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Good. The idea that when we are cutting public spending in the UK, we should lamely go along with an inflation-linked increase (or any increase come to that) with the EU Budget is simply outrageous.
    Cameron needs to wise up. We have had enough of the EU bleeding us dry; wrecking our Sovereignty and dictating what we may and may not do in our own country.
    We want OUT. This is just a foretaste of what is to come if the CONs don’t start the process to get us out of the EU.

    • 2trueblue

      Totally agree. We are at the stage where Cameron has to read what is going on. There is this belief that those of us who disagree about the EU are ‘head bangers’. We do need a referendum to settle this matter. All parties think that we are not entitled to it, Liebore had 13yrs., promised it to us, did not deliver, Cameron indicated that he would give it to us, so far no sign, the LibDums have not stated their case. We need some democracy and that is what is missing in all of this, It is not just about the money, but that is a good place to start.

    • The Crunge

      I confess I agree with your sentiments but the realities of EU budgeting render this vote an indicative gesture of public sentiment but will not alter the EU budget. The EU is not a democracy and unlike the USA, a budget veto by Cameron will not achieve the desired end. The Commision will cobble together alternative proposals which will require qualified majority voting and the net effect will be that the budget will actually increase. I have no doubt Cameron realises this but also realises that to admit it would be an embarassing public admission of Britain’s impotency. Ed Milliband knows this as well but being in opposition can use it to further his own ends rather than being publicly stymied and embarassed like Cameron. The last Government actually secured a massive increase in our contribution (by reducing our rebate) in exchange for CAP reform. To say that Milliband is being hypocritical would be an understatement.

  • RatherAnnoyedPleb

    “First, it has been yet another reminder that David Cameron can barely control his party when it comes to Europe.”

    Don’t you mean he is completely incapable of controlling his party? At least fifty of his MPs think he’s a dick and more power to their collective elbows. Damn this coalition, the sooner it collapses the better.

    • telemachus

      Collapse and let the party of growth in

      • Boudicca_Icenii

        Oh, so you now believe UKIP CAN win.

      • kyalami

        Growth in debt. Growth in economic misery.

        • telemachus

          No Growth
          Build fo growth
          Bring in taxes
          Pay back debt

          • Conservative with a capital C

            Are you really proposing that a return to a Labour administration would be beneficial to the country? Seriously, my friend, you need your head examined.

    • The Crunge

      It would be interesting to know what you propose to replace it with. The Coalition may be as welcome as the Common Cold but replacing it with a dose of economic Cholera via messrs Milliband and Balls would hardly be neither healthy or rational.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      I like to think of it as the revenge of the fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists!

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