The change has been so sudden, so dizzying, that commentators are struggling to keep up. As recently as a a couple of years ago, British Europhiles used to aver that we shouldn’t get too hung up about our budget contributions. Paying more in, they said, gave us additional leverage in Brussels; complaining, by contrast, cost us influence.
If there is a single politician making that argument today, I have yet to hear him. Even Denis MacShane – Denis MacShane, for Heaven’s sake – now contends that the EU, just like its member nations, must learn to get by with less.
The key amendment tomorrow is the one moved by the Rochester and Strood MP, and former top-rated UK economist, Mark Reckless. It calls for a real terms cut. In other words, the EU budget should increase more slowly than inflation.
The Reckless amendment is remarkably modest. Almost every one of the 27 member governments, including the United Kingdom, is making far more severe cuts than it demands. And almost all of them, including the United Kingdom, must borrow the money they are sending to Brussels. As I argue in a comment piece in the main newspaper today, Britain’s contribution to the EU budget more than wipes out all our domestic spending cuts put together.