I make the observation that the situation is, unfortunately, yet another legacy of the previous Government.The point is that the Parliament is voting on the EU Budget. There are a couple of amendments, one from Bill Cash is to be supported by the Government, which essentially asks the European Parliament to wind its neck in (fat chance), and another tabled by Douglas Carswell demands a little bit more,
"Line 2, leave out from ‘2011’ to end and add ‘is concerned at the above-inflation increase being made to Britain’s EU budget contribution; believes that, at a time when the Government is poised to make reductions in public spending elsewhere, it is wrong to increase that contribution; and calls on the Government to reduce Britain’s EU budget contribution’."I congratulate the 35 Tory backbenchers who have signed this amendment, but I fear that though the retributions from the whips may not be sudden, it will occur soon enough, despite Tim Mongomery's pious hopes.
The problem is that this increase is one agreed by our friends over the Channel, and it has been agreed under the rules of the Lisbon Treaty, a Treaty as you might have noticed we have yet to be given our say over through a Referendum.
It is not enough for Osborne or Cameron to blame the Labour Party, he has had the opportunity to revisit the issue and decided not to. It would have been difficult I grant you, and would have wound up our continental friends no end. But the Government in Westminster is a Government that is supposed to reflect the wishes of the people of this country, not those of other countries no matter how ripe their cheese, steaming their bratwursts and tasty their wines.
The problem is that under the Ponsonby Rule with a Treaty in place the Government's hands are tied. If a vote goes against the Treaty (and in this case against a budget increase who's legal base is the Treaty) then it acts as a no confidence motion. The Government falls as it is unable to get the support together to fulfil its Treaty obligations.
Worse still, even if the Government was to lose the vote and the MPs actually picked up their cudgels and voted this ridiculous budget increase down, it wouldn't matter as the money would still be paid.
There is another way of course, and that would be for the Government to support the Carswell amendment. Vote the Budget increase down and repudiate the Ponsonby rule (which is a customary rather than formal rule).
Whilst the increase would still be paid, it would mean the next time he was sitting round a table in Brussels hammering out the next EU budget, or defending our rebate he could turn to the colleagues and point to the vote,
"It will not wash in the UK" he could say.
"Europe has to wind in its ambitions".
The Colleagues would listen, after all, we are more important to them than they are to us. Politically, financially and strategically.