The subject of the EU budget dominated the media throughout the week. There was talk of dark plots and conspiracies, all of which were much exaggerated. The issue was the Multi Annual Financial Framework for the European Union. In essence it was the EU Budget.
A Government motion laid before Parliament called for an increase of no more than inflation, technically a real terms freeze, which is stronger than any position taken by the previous Government. An amendment was then laid by my Conservative colleague, Mark Reckless calling for the EU to cut its budget. I studied the amendment and was happy to put my name to it. At a time when many of us are having to cut our own budgets and make financial economies I felt, and still do, that a message should go back to Brussels that they should look to do the same. I am pleased that the Prime Minister is standing up to the EU but I wanted him to have a clear message that he could take to Brussels. Whilst the amendment did win the vote, it is only an advisory vote, however I am sure the PM will use it as a weapon to get the best deal for Britain. He has stood up to the EU before and I feel confident he will again
It was interesting to see the Labour party support the amendment. This is a Party that during their years in Government gave more money to the EU and also signed away the rebate so relentlessly fought for and won by Mrs. Thatcher years before. Their position last week smacked of political opportunism. I do not vote against the Government lightly, but as I have always promised, if I feel it necessary, then I am prepared to do so. Last Wednesday was such an occasion. I understand that when the budget negotiations take place there is very little chance of getting the reduction, as other nations who are net beneficiaries from the EU will not support it, but from the feedback I have received, I believe I represented the wishes of a significant proportion of the High Peak electorate.
Some people may have read in the national press last week an article about a Parliamentary Question I was alleged to have tabled regarding horseshoes. In response to some constituents’ questions about this, the question was not tabled by me, but by the Leicestershire MP. Andrew Bridgen. An error in the Table Office attributed this PQ to me. The article that appeared in the Daily Mail was written in a way to trivialise the question asking what MP's do and what issues they pursue. Faced with written confirmation of the error from the Table Office, the paper has promised a retraction which I hope will have been printed by the time you read this column.