EU Budget: How did British MEPs vote?

Posted on March 15, 2013

The EU Budget negotiations have not run as smoothly as in previous years. In the past, the process was simple: everyone sits down, agrees to pay more cash to Brussels then off for champagne and canapes.

Then David Cameron shook things up a bit, pressing for an EU budget cut given the austerity member states are implementing. He secured an agreement with the other national leaders – which should have gone further, but was still an improvement on what went before.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted against the proposal. It wasn’t the final vote, but it was intended as a blocking measure to force the collected national governments to rethink their decision. The fact that various federalists in the Parliament tried to make the ballot secret – a scandalous attempt to avoid public scrutiny – shows that they know how unpopular that step is.

You would be hard-pressed in Britain to find anyone who thinks that while we are trying to save money at home, we should be paying even more to wasteful, undemocratic EU institutions. So how did British MEPs vote in our name?

Voted for the budget cut

Conservatives: Marta Andreasen, Richard Ashworth, Robert Atkins, Philip Bradbourn, Martin Callanan, Giles Chichester, Nirj Deva, Vicky Ford, Jacqueline Foster, Ashley Fox, Julie Girling, Daniel Hannan, Malcolm Harbour, Syed Kamall, Sajjad Karim, Timothy Kirkhope, Emma McClarkin, Anthea McIntyre, Jim Nicholson, Struan Stevenson, Robert Sturdy, Kay Swinburne, Charles Tannock, Geoffrey van Orden and Marina Yannakoudakis.

Labour: Michael Cashman, Mary Honeyball, David Martin, Linda McAvan, Arlene McCarthy, Brian Simpson, Catherine Stihler, and Glenis Wilmott

DUP: Diane Dodds

Ex-BNP: Andrew Brons

Voted against the budget cut

Liberal Democrats: Catherine Bearder, Philip Bennion, Chris Davies, Andrew Duff, Fiona Hall, Sarah Ludford, Edward McMillan-Scott, Rebecca Taylor and Graham Watson

UKIP: Stuart Agnew, Gerard Batten, Godfrey Bloom, Derek Clark, Nigel Farage, Roger Helmer and Mike Nattrass

Labour: Claude Moraes, Peter Skinner

Greens: Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor

Plaid Cymru: Jill Evans

BNP: Nick Griffin

So there we have it. I imagine that the Lib Dems are going to have some explaining to do, voting against the deal that their own party supported in Westminster.

As for UKIP, they are trying to rationalise away voting against a measure to save British taxpayers’ money by explaining that they want there to be no EU budget at all. That’s fine, but it isn’t a justification for voting for a bigger, more expensive Brussels right now.

As a Tory source points out, if UKIP vote this way in the final budget ballot then they may well be lining up with federalists to deliver an EU budget that grows every year…probably not the story they want to tell back home.

The Tory voting for an EU budget increase

Posted on October 31, 2012

Today the Government faces at least two votes on the future of the EU budget. It is an encouraging sign of the times that the debate is now between whether to freeze or cut the amount swallowed by Brussels.

Only a few years ago the battle was about whether to give up our rebate or simply to agree to a slightly lower rise. (Needless to say, Tony Blair went for the more costly option and sacrificed part of the hard-won rebate). Nowadays there is hardly anyone to be found in the political world who will argue, publicly at least, for more cash to go to the EU.

But there is one exception.

No-one really noticed at the time, but last week the European Parliament voted on the proposed EU budget, which proposes a 6.8% increase in the amount wasted spent by the European institutions.

This was the point at which David Cameron rightly stated his opposition to the plans, telling his MPs that

We’ve not put in place tough settlements in Britain in order to go to Brussels and sign up to big increases in European spending

The vast majority of his backbenches, his party members and the electorate at large unquestionably agree with him or want to go further.

At this point, let me introduce Malcolm Harbour, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands. Faced with an opportunity to vote to save taxpayers’ money, be loyal to his party leader and win the appreciation of his constituents all at the same time, Malcolm did the oppositehe voted for the EU budget to increase above inflation.

The latest press release on his website is titled “Danger for an iconic brand”. It refers to the future of the London Black Cab, whose manufacturer is in trouble, but may as well be talking about Harbour’s own impact on the reputation of the Conservative Party.

These are the last convulsions of the now almost extinct Conservatus Pro-Brusselsaurus. Malcolm Harbour is a disgrace, but looking at the composition of the Commons today we have good reason to hope he may be one of the last of his plodding, bizarre species.

–UPDATE–

Malcolm Harbour’s office have been in touch to report that he has since corrected his vote to register against the Budget – they assure me that it was a “genuine slip of the finger” in the Parliament’s electronic voting system. Maybe the pro-EU Conservatives are in fact already completely extinct?

Brussels resurrects the rhetoric of “yellow peril”

Posted on March 05, 2012

Dan Hannan MEP draws attention to the latest propaganda video from the European Union:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EElHoI7P4qw&feature=player_embedded

As he points out, there are some pretty dubious racial undertones in the way that the non-European blocs are represented.

But there are other insights into the Brussels mindset here, too.

The first is the EU’s view of trade. When these snarling attackers advance on the innocent white young lady representing the EU,  they are waving swords, spinning roundhouse kicks and yelling. They are, of course, meant to represent China, India and Africa’s economic growth. That’s right – far from viewing the rise in prosperity and the improvement in industrialisation in the developing world as an opportunity to trade, share innovations and collaborate, the EU views them as a threat.

When Brussels sees the rest of the world as would-be assailants rather than a route to further prosperity, it is small wonder that a protectionist Fortress Europe has been constructed, to our great cost.

The second is the shift in the way the EU is trying to make its case to the disengaged and unenthused peoples of Europe. Ten years ago, the EU’s propaganda was all sweetness and light, absurdly saccharine promises of the sunlit uplands of federalism. Now, as I predicted back in December, they are shifting their rhetoric to one of fear and scaremongering.

Fundamentally, this is because people have realised there is little to love about the EU project. Endemic corruption, overbearing regulation, arrogant and out of touch technocrats and – worst of all in these tough times – devastating economic harm done to member states and ordinary citizens, all these factors have dispelled the myths the EU elites once peddled.

All Brussels is left with is a message of fear. Internationally, that means videos like this, stirring up fear of the foreigner in a return to the loathsome “yellow peril” rhetoric of a century ago. Domestically, it will mean predictions of civil war and a return to genocide in Europe if anyone dares to question why Brussels should be so powerful despite its lack of democratic mandate.

When a political movement – and the EU, for all its pretensions to superhuman impartiality, is a political movement – resorts to lashing out like this, it is a sign that it is in its death throes. The worrying question is how much harm it will do to all of us before it finally expires.

How to write a catchy song about the wonders of Eurofederalism

Posted on January 13, 2012

Sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it?

Well how about we take the tune of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by nineties one-hit wonders Deep Blue Something, and recast the lyrics to include such gems as:

Democracy, freedom, subsidiarity
Federalism, the solution we’ve got

How does that sound? Dreadful, actually, but it didn’t stop the Young European Federalists doing the whole song, acting it out and uploading it to Youtube:

This clip has been doing the rounds for some time, but I thought I’d share it as a timely reminder that the true horrors of a Federal EU are far deeper and grimmer than simply bankruptcy, economic stagnation and the abolition of democratic sovereignty.

In case you missed those classic lyrics, or would like to sing along at home, here they are in full:

— VERSE 1 —
They say that we’ve got nothing in common
No cultural ties to build on
The project just can’t work
They say that nationalism will break us
Conservatives will fight us
But trust we really do care

— CHORUS —
And we shout what about Europe United?
Peace and safety for all of the people
Democracy, freedom, subsidiarity
Federalism, the solution we’ve got

— VERSE 2 —
They say we’ll never work together
To make our union stronger
Let us say no!
We’ll build a Europe bold and new
A democracy that’s true
Europe United as one!

— CHORUS —

— VERSE 3 —
We say the EU’s a confusion
Lacking a Constitution
But we know what to do
Reform now, we want to see enlargement
Accept our major statement
Europe united as one!

— CHORUS —

— CHORUS —

The undeclared vested interests of leading pro-EU Peers

Posted on December 16, 2011

We’ve heard a lot from pro-EU members of the House of Lords in the last week. Here are a few examples:

 

Lord Brittan: “In order to retain the goodwill which will continue to be needed in future, would my noble friend agree that it will be necessary-if not today, certainly soon-to make it clear that we are not going to try to stop the 26 going ahead by denying them the use of European Union institutions?”

Lord Mandelson: “My Lords, people will differ in their view about whether the Government’s negotiating position last week was tenable or realistic. Will the Government reflect on the utterly shambolic way in which they prepared their position and sought support for their proposals at the summit last week?”

Lord Clinton-Davis: “The Government have not been courageous but desperately cowardly and, most of all, barren of influence. Is that not the case?”

They seem happy to share their enthusiasm for giving up powers to the EU with us. But there’s something else they aren’t so happy about sharing – as ex-Commissioners each of them has to support EU integration or risk losing their generous, taxpayer-funded EU pension. Moreover, they don’t declare this financial interest when they speak in EU debates.

It sounds fanciful, but it’s true. The terms of employment for Commissioners are clear – the obligations of the role include the stipulation that a Commissioner

“shall carry out the duties assigned to him objectively, impartially and in keeping with the duty of loyalty to the [European] Communities

Importantly, these obligations must be followed

“both during and after their term of office”

The consequences of failing to express loyalty for the rest of their days are also clear, in black and white:

“In the event of any breach of these obligations, the Court of Justice may, on application by the Council or the Commission, rule that the Member concerned be, according to the circumstances, either compulsorily retired in accordance with Article 216 or deprived of his right to a pension or other benefits in its stead.”

That’s a clear conflict of interest. Any Peer or MP must declare their interest if they receive a pension from a company affected by a debate before they speak in it – and most companies don’t require undying loyalty even after retirement.

Bizarrely, though, these EU pensions – which are explicitly conditional on ongoing political support – are not currently declared by the Europhile former Commissioners during EU debates, and the House of Lords’ authorities are apparently happy for that secrecy to continue. Just as bad, the pensions are not declared in the online Register of Lords’ Interests.

How can it be right that a portion of our legislature are campaigning for an organisation which they have a financial vested interest in, and yet are not required to declare it?

CCHQ’s yellowish EU briefing

Posted on October 20, 2011

CCHQ have just issued this briefing to MPs to explain why the people don’t deserve a referendum on our relationship with the EU, and would probably find a vote too “confusing”. It hasn’t gone down well with Conservative backbenchers at all, some of whom are suggesting the document has more than a few Lib Dem fingerprints on it.

That may or may not be true, but if the Conservative Party wanted to avoid those suspicions they probably shouldn’t have titled the paper “Britain in Europe” – which also happens to be the name of the pro-EU and pro-Euro pressure group run at one time by Danny Alexander…

Exclusive: EU official: The Euro’s existence is under threat, and we will screw the poor to save it

Posted on September 23, 2011

The political and economic disaster which is the Euro has reached new depths – as David Cameron noted in Ottawa yesterday “the problems in the eurozone are now so big that they have begun to threaten the stability of the world economy”.

Traditionally, the only place where logic, democracy and facts have never been able to penetrate when it comes to the glaring failure of the Euro has been the European Commission. It’s rare that they ever come clean about the EU’s dubious tactics and unheard of for them to even admit there’s a serious problem.

This morning, though,  a European Commission official called Michele Calandrino was speaking at London’s City Hall as part of an EU Committee of the Regions Open Day, addressing an audience of local authorities and regional apparatchiks. My source tells me that first he confessed that:

European funding is an incentive for Member States to play the game at the European level

Which was a surprisingly frank statement in itself, given the long history of pretending that funding is allocated to target problems rather than to provide political incentives to “play the game”, ie hand over more and more sovereignty to Brussels. A confession of their dodgy dealing from the horse’s mouth.

The really fascinating bit came next, on the Eurozone crisis. The problems were so serious, said Mr Calandrino, that:

we are worried about the future of the Social Fund because of the need for fiscal consolidation to save the Euro

To translate the jargon, the European Social Fund is the main tranche of the EU budget targeted at creating jobs and providing skills training to the unemployed and disadvantaged. As well as being a large amount of money, it’s one of the EU’s posterchildren for how great Brussels is.

If the Commission thinks it may have to scrap the ESF “to save the Euro”, then they are evidently more concerned for the Euro’s future than they have previously let on. As far as I’m aware, the Commission has never previously confessed that the current crisis threatens the currency’s very existence. It’s a measure of how bad things have got that even they appear to be abandoning the pretence that the Euro will inevitably survive.

This confession is also very revealing about the EU Commission’s priorities – they would rather withdraw funding from the unemployed and poverty-stricken than abandon their disastrous vanity project. What a message to send.