Coffee House

Tory whips in a flap over EU budget rebellion deploy Rees-Mogg

30 October 2012

At this morning’s Cabinet meeting, ministers discussed tomorrow’s debate on the EU budget, which is shaping up to be a big row. MPs I have spoken to who have either signed or are considering putting their names to the amendment calling for a real-terms cut in the budget have found their whips to be in quite a flap about the issue. Even though it might be convenient for the Prime Minister to use a vote in parliament calling for a cut as a weapon at the budget summit itself, the party leadership is clearly sufficiently nervous to have pushed for a rival amendment from Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone. The amendment adds the following to the end of the full motion:

‘…further regrets the substantial increase in the UK’s net contribution to the EU in the previous financial perspective; reject proposals for EU financial transaction taxes, and calls on the Government to veto anything other than a cut or freeze in the seven year MFF.’

This is essentially the position that the Prime Minister is already taking as he heads into the negotiations: that anything more than an increase matching inflation will get the veto. So it could deflate the Reckless/Pritchard amendment a little, giving the more loyal backbenchers a chance to put their names to a tough-sounding line without making things difficult for the Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, this morning’s Order Paper has 28 names down next to the real-terms cut amendment, and I know of at least two more MPs who have signed up this morning. While the Rees-Mogg/Bone amendment is something the whips are trying to use as a diversionary tactic, I note that Bone himself is also one of the MPs on the order paper supporting the calls for a real-terms cut.


One MP I spoke to who has signed the amendment this morning said: ‘Unless we help the Prime Minister harden his position, we would be failing our constituents.’ It’s interesting that backbenchers view this as ‘helpful’ to the Prime Minister, while the whips are seeing the intervention as a cause to panic. And the ‘failing our constituents’ may remind readers of the language that was used just over a year ago by MPs preparing to rebel in the backbench motion on an EU referendum: the rebels are suggesting now that this vote may see a similar-sized revolt to the 81 last year. No wonder the whips are nervous: this vote is, after all, their first big test both since the reshuffle and since Sir George Young replaced Andrew Mitchell.

And as for a hardening in position, Number 10 was definitely on an expectations-management mission this morning with regards the budget summit itself. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said:

‘It is going to be difficult to reach agreement: there are different positions around the table and there’s no doubt that this is a challenging negotiation. Now we are going into that negotiation with good intentions. We want to try and reach a deal.’

But he stressed that as there is a year between the budget summit and the budget coming into play in 2014, there will be no immediate consequences of a failure to reach an agreement, thus setting us up to prepare for a veto moment from the Prime Minister.

UPDATE, 1.45pm: I now understand that as of this lunchtime there are 35 names on the amendment for a real-terms cut. But that’s not all: those pushing that amendment are holding back what I am told are ‘significant numbers’ of MPs from tabling their support publicly in advance of the vote tomorrow. This looks like it is going to be even bigger than last year’s Europe rebellion.

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  • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr

    If this rebellion it’s inconvenient for Cameroon, he has only himself to blame. The fact is that people simply don’t trust him, not even his own MP’s. There would be no rebellion if his party had confidence in his word, but after two years of his dissembling, his party is minded to nail his balls to the wall, certain as they are that Cameron, left to his own devices, will sell the country out in a heartbeat.

  • Bellevue

    Can anyone tell me what time the debate is going to take place? Many thanks.

  • Jebediah

    It’s time for us to vote on staying in the EU. I struggle to see the economic benefits that justify them meddling in our affairs. Give us a choice. I think most people, left or right are tired of the EU’s growing influence. Let’s face it we voted in the 70s to join the European Economic Community, not today’s half-federal European Union. Time to have the guts to allow the electorate to decide the UK’s future.

  • The Sage

    OK, let’s see what the Tory backbenchers are made of. Stern stuff, I hope.

    • EJ

      Don’t hold your breath. Yes there are some real decent ones among them – but the vast majority are smug and utterly contemptuous of what we (the small-minded, Little-Englander, right-wing nut-jobs etc) conservative voters actually want. I know – I speak to them. The latter category have no concept of the anger that is building against Cameron and his crew.

      • The Sage

        We are on the same page here. Anyway, let’s all keep the pressure on.

  • dalai guevara

    Apparatchik Britain in full flow – like the father, so is the son. When apparatchiks begin to support corporations, all is lost.

  • David Lindsay

    At last the strange media fantasy of widespread Conservative Euroscepticism is being exploded. It goes at least all the way back to Maastricht, when the mostly thoughtful Labour opponents outnumbered by three to one the Conservative pantomime dames of both sexes. Guess which lot got on television, and has done so ever since.

    The Conservative Whip was withdrawn from a handful for abstaining when, officially instructed to abstain, 44 on the other side voted against Major’s increase in British contributions to the EU Budget. Again, guess which lot got airtime, and still does.

    But as was pointed out on last night’s Analysis, the United Kingdom is in fact more likely to leave the EU under a Labour Government than under a Conservative one. On a recent Any Questions, fully half of the panellists called for British withdrawal. One of them was Nigel Farage, and the other was Bob Crow.

    Farage has never appeared on a platform with a major Party Leader and he never will. But Crow’s union still submits an affiliation fee to Labour every year only for the cheque to be returned uncashed, a situation unlikely to last much longer since Crow appeared on the platform from which Ed Miliband addressed this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

    Ah, yes, “the Durham miners would never wear it.” Those were the words in which the Attlee Government dismissed the plan for the nascent EU.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      Cos the relationship of the UK with the undemocratic EU is not half as interesting or relevant as the internal workings of the labour party and its history. Tribalist nonsense, again.

      • David Lindsay

        See my answer to Vulture.

    • Vulture

      Look, you sad sap. Your precious Labour party used to be anti-Europe. Then, under the treacherous Kinnock – who managed to get his entire family aboard the EU’s gravy train – they reneged on their history and became the most pro-EU party. If it had been up to them we would be in the Euro now.
      The Labour party that you support died out around 1960. Durham Miner;s Gala – that’s a larf. When did the last Durham miner go underground?
      Wake up and smell the coffee.

      • David Lindsay


        You’ll be telling me that Thatcher was a Eurosceptic next. Or that Cameron is. Ed Balls is, though. Jon Cruddas is, too. More and more of them are, and many of the rest always were. You do know who kept Britain out of the euro, don’t you? Maybe you don’t.

        And as was pointed pointed out on last night’s Analysis, the United Kingdom is in fact more likely to leave the EU under a Labour Government than under a
        Conservative one. Just as well that there is going to be one soon enough, and for three terms.

        Can you name the last sitting Conservative MP to have called for British withdrawal? I can’t. But a Labour one did so on Radio Four last night. In fact, some of them have been doing so for decades. But no one in the Tory-obsessed media has paid any attention. Until now, anyway.

        Labour has as good as promised a referendum on EU membership, and will do so explicitly in time for the next General Election. That has nothing to do with electioneering, because it is going to win anyway. There is a telling media blackout of this fact.

        Likewise, Labour is going to vote against the increase in the EU Budget, but all attention will be on three or for Conservative rebels. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Teresa Gorman of the twenty-first century, is not that desperate to get onto Newsnight. Not that Newsnight will mind: this way, it gets someone even more eccentric than he is.

        Oh, and there were a hundred thousand people at the Durham Miners’ Gala. We heard Ed Miliband tell us and the television cameras that he was going to reopen the pits. Not only the Single European Act has Baroness Thatcher of Savile and Hillsborough lost lost in the end. I only hope that she lives to see it.

        • Vulture

          @ David Lindsay:You talk as though I’m a Tory. I’m not – thank God.
          There is no chance at all that any of the Lib-Lab-Con parties will take Britain out of the EU. But if you want to go on believing that delusion – go ahead.
          There may have been 100,000 people at the Durham Miners’ Gala – but none of them were miners since mining went the way of the cotton mills.
          There is no more chance of Red Ed ‘reopening the pits’ than there is of him re-introducing the spinning Jenny.
          You are a sentimental old thing, David, but it might be better if instead of writing your interminable posts about political history you went out one night and found a nice girl to settle down with. She might even agree to clean the pee stains of your underwear so long as you agreed to take down your Michael Foot posters.

          • David Lindsay

            The plans for reopening the pits are detailed and in the public domain. It is going to happen, beginning in the next Parliament. What would you have instead, windfarms? We import low-quality coal into this country, often from child and slave labour, while sitting on centuries’ worth of some of the best coal in the world. Only That Woman could have come up with anything at once so wicked and so downright stupid.

            Likewise, the commitment to a referendum on EU membership is a matter of record. The next Labour Government, in addition to being thoroughly critical of the EU institutions (the last one – Brown, not Blair – couldn’t get the allies on that, but they are as sure as hell there now), will certainly hold such a referendum. If you want one, then vote Labour. If you don’t vote Labour, then you obviously don’t want one.

            • Vulture

              The future is Shale Gas Mr L. You have clearly never been down a pit or you would know that coal mining is soul destroying, back breaking dirty, dangerous and thankless work. Even the miners are glad mining has gone.

              Now, away from your ridiculous fantasy land, would you care to put your money where your drooling mouth is & take a small wager – say a Grand – that the adenoid kind and that nice Mr Bollocks will never hold an in/out EU referendum if the British voters are ever insane enough to elect another Labour Government?

              • David Lindsay

                I never bet.

                And I have lived in County Durham since the age of four. I know all about the pits. My late father was vicar of a pit village before, during and after the Strike. “Even the miners are glad mining has gone”? Is that what they taught you at Eton? It will be back soon, anyway. You can’t stop it. It’s going to happen.

                • Vulture

                  No, its not. Except perhaps tin mining in Cornwall. Why mine for coal when you can frack for gas for a fraction of the cost?

                  Ah, so your a Vicar’s son. That explains a lot. So are Jon Snow and Gordon Brown. Unreality kind of goes with the job.

                  If you believe Ed Miliband’s promises

                  I expect you also believe that there will be pie in the sky when you die?

                  Not surprised that you don’t bet either. You probably don’t have two pennies to rub together when you go to the whippet races.

                • David Lindsay

                  You still don’t get it. No one who is going to be in government for at least 15 years from 2015 onwards is remotely interested in the effusions of the right-wing London think tank circuit or its cooler older brothers across the Atlantic. They get their ideas from somewhere else entirely. The same place as they get their money, in fact.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Re-open the pits? Oh come along. What happens to all that greenery then?

          • David Lindsay

            You’ve obviously never seen these places. Pretty, they are not.

            It is going to happen. It is not up for debate. It is the declared, detailed policy of the party that is bound to win the next three General Elections.

            • Fergus Pickering

              I meant green policies, but never mind. I see you are pro-life, pro-family, pro worker and anti war as opposed to all those anti-life, anti-fmily, anti-worker and pro-war people you see around the place. And you went to school in Durham. Good for you. What school, if I may enquire?.I mean what school when you were, say 16 – 17?

              • David Lindsay

                If it’s green politics that you want, then you should vote for Cameron and probably already do. Similarly, for example, note that it has never been Labour Party policy to introduce same-sex “marriage”, and that there has never been any doubt that Labour MPs would have a free vote if Cameron ever managed to get it to the floor of the House; there is still no suggestion that the next Labour Government will introduce any such legislation. And so on. Not least in relation to the EU.

                Local comp, if that’s what you are getting at. Very working-class and ex-working-class catchment area. Real education. Later, though not very much later, I did as long again as a governor of it. The same Head was still there when I arrived for the second time. He called me “Mr Lindsay” until I said that, “It’s all right, you can call me David if you like, George.”

                • Vulture

                  @Desperate David:
                  PS: Hate to break the news to you but like you neither of the Eds are working class.
                  So a vicar’s son who claims to be working class, no less?

                  You are a comedian Mr Lindsay. And the horrible irony is that it was your Labour party who killed your old working class. They did it by mass immigration after the stuffing had been knocked out of mining by Arthur Scargill’s insane strike. (Old Scaggie is probably another one of your heroes).

                  At any rate, your class is a declining demographic indeed. The old Labour party, the old unions, socialism itself : they all died around the time that you were born.

                  You are out of time baby. The future belongs to others entirely.

                • dalai guevara

                  understand Bourdieu and then you will come off the drugs.

            • alexsandr

              why do deep coal mining when you can do open cast at a fraction of the cost, and a tiny workforce.. It happening in Ayrshire and Northumberland.
              Industry doesn’t need a vast army of wage slaves anymore. It will do stuff with machines, cos its 2012, not 1912.

              • David Lindsay

                “and a tiny workforce”


                Why would the unions want that?

                Still, you people don’t get it. What there is going to be, soon enough and then for a political generation, is a real, live Labour Government. Not a New Labour one; that was his brother, who lost. A Labour one. Interested, above all else, in employing people. “A tiny workforce” is exactly the way to sell it the opposite of whatever it is that you are advocating.

              • dalai guevara

                the two word answer is energy and gap due to a one word phenomenon which is procrastination.

      • EJ


    • dorothy wilson

      It’s strange then that, just a few weeks ago, Milliminor was saying that we should have an in/out referendum and that he would campaign to stay in.

      • David Lindsay

        No surprise there, although circumstances might very well have changed dramatically by the time that the thing was actually held.

        The point is that he wants to have one, not that the pro-EU BBC and the public school print media between them will let the rest of us know that. Cameron has repeatedly and definitively ruled one out.

        Cameron is completely closed to the idea. Whereas Miliband, with no real need to electioneer and therefore acting only out principle, is already signed up to it. This is a 1974 moment.

        • Bluesman

          “Whereas Miliband, with no real need to electioneer and therefore acting only out principle”

          Aah, bless.

          • David Lindsay

            Just wait for the Corby result. Or look at every election result for the last two years. But Corby might really bring it home to them, as Eastbourne did in 1990.

            If the Conservative Party still possesses any survival instinct, then it will get a new Leader by the end of the following month. But it probably no longer does posses any survival instinct. It is probably suicidal. It shows every sign of being, and has done for donkey’s years.

            If Cameron is still Prime Minister at the dawn of 2013, then that will be proved beyond doubt. The Tories just want to die. So let them.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Ivory towers don’t begin to express it. And you father was a vicar were there were miners. Heavens!

              • David Lindsay

                Oh, yes. I still live only a mile away. They think of him as a saint up there. He stuck with them through the Eighties and helped to give them a voice, you see. A kind of localised David Jenkins, with whom he rarely agreed theologically but of whom he was nevertheless a great friend.

                Jenkins and Thatcher are the same age, 87. It will be interesting to compare their funerals. Whatever else Thatcher gets, there will be no outpouring of grief, not even from her staunchest supporters.

                Whereas if any London journalists are sent to Durham to report Jenkins’s, and they really should be, then they will not be able to believe their eyes as thousands of the very hardest people weep in the streets.

  • Sue

    Why not ask the electorate what they think, it’s OUR MONEY THEY’RE GIVING AWAY! Of course not, silly of me, none of our politicians believe in democracy.

    • dalai guevara

      you could decide not to vote for them.

  • Anon

    Doubt anything other than Reckless’ amendment will be selected.

  • Conservative Cactus

    I expected better from Jacob Rees-Mogg.

    • David Lindsay


      • Conservative Cactus

        His speech during the rebellion last year on a referendum on membership of the EU was rather good.

        • Confit de Canard

          Me too. I wrote to him to express my congratulations. I appear to have written too soon.

  • HooksLaw

    Stop trying to whip up a storm in a tea cup.

    • Vulture

      If you were to remove your head from Dave’s fundament for a moment Hookie, you would see this is not a storm in a tea cup but about the very future of your country.
      If you are happy to see Britain reduced to a powerless province of an undemocratic, corrupt and sinister organisation like the EU, that’s fine.
      But most of us are not.

      • dalai guevara

        Exactly Vulture – just pay your taxes, then there might be some money in the pot and you know what money is. Money is….

        Now go and have another branded skinny latte on me.

    • echo34

      Nothing to see here….move along…. errr..loony tunes…..wibble..

  • alexsandr

    the MP’s -all of them – need to remember whose interests they are supposed to represent. the electorates.

    • NeilMc1

      and who pays their wages!

      • telemachus

        Look the debate is advisory
        Result mattereth not

    • EJ

      If only! The whole thing is a bloody disgrace! Any Conservative MP who does not vociferously attack the H2B’s transparent shilly-shallying deceit are absolutely letting down the conservative voters who got them into office – and they should not be allowed to roll over.

      Conservative MPs know this: if you will not stand up for what we want, you will lose our support. The left-leaning pro-Brussels snake oil salesman that is leader of your party lost it long ago – and you know it.

      • telemachus

        So you support an increase in budget then?

  • Daniel Maris

    A real terms cut could be an increase with inflation at 2-3%! What a transparent get out device!!

    Pure theatre.

    • telemachus

      Cameron’s position is to be all things to all men.
      “I think we need to be realistic about the upcoming council. It is not going to be straightforward to reach an agreement.

      “It is something that has to be agreed by all 27 countries around the table. The majority of countries around the table are getting more out of the EU budget than they are putting in. That will obviously affect their view.

      “We want to try to reach a deal but it needs to be a deal that we find acceptable and is in our country’s interests.”
      Whatever the vote tomorrow he will mould it to that view

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