East Midlands Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn voted today in the European parliament in Strasbourg to scrap Britain’s EU rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher at Fontainebleau in 1984. In a voting session on the Garriga Polledo report on the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework plan, he opposed an amendment to delete the words “calls for an ending of existing rebates, exceptions and correction mechanisms”. This would of course include the British rebate, and would cost the UK around €3 billion a year.
The vote was carried, but of course this does not mean that we necessarily lose the rebate. The parliamentary report will go to the Commission and Council, who will probably reverse the decision. But it doesn’t seem very smart for a British MEP to vote against the rebate.
During the same voting session, Newton Dunn also supported the introduction of a Financial Transfer Tax, which is in effect a tax on the City of London. He supported the creation of new EU “own resources” — or direct EU taxes. He also voted to increase the EU budget by 5% — a suggestion opposed recently in a letter from heads of government in the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and Finland. On the basis that David Cameron’s signature was on behalf of the Coalition, Bill was effectively voting against his own party.
You won’t be surprised to hear that I voted against the budget increase, the new EU taxes, and the moves to scrap the rebate . We know that Bill is an out-and-out Europhile, and that he is still dazzled by the European dream, despite all the problems it is creating for our economy and for our democracy. But I am still fairly shocked that he would vote for measures that would be directly damaging to the British economy, and to the constituents he is supposed to represent.