Cameron faces tense vote on EU budget

British Prime Minister David Cameron faces a tense parliamentary vote on Wednesday as rebels in his Conservative party gang up with the Labour opposition to push for a tougher stance on the EU budget.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 31 Oct 2012, 7:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:28 PM

Cameron has threatened to veto any above-inflation increase of the bloc’s seven-year budget when European Union leaders meet for a potentially fractious summit in Brussels next month.

But dozens of Conservative rebels have signed a motion, which will be debated and then voted on on Wednesday, urging Cameron to hold out for a cut in real terms at a time of austerity in Britain and other EU countries.

Labour piled on the pressure when it said that it would vote with the rebels, insisting that it had consistently called for a cut in the budget.

The vote is non-binding and Cameron is still likely to win it with the support of Conservative loyalists and of the Liberal Democrats, the smaller party in Britain’s governing coalition.

But a rebellion would emphasise a growing rift with so-called “eurosceptics” on the right of his party, at a time when Cameron is battling low poll ratings and a sense of drift halfway through his five-year term.

Mark Reckless, one of the leading Conservative rebels, said about 40 of the party’s 304 lawmakers had backed the motion.

“I hope what will happen is the government will accept my amendment, then David Cameron can go to Brussels, as (former Conservative prime minister) Margaret Thatcher went before him, as head of a united parliament to represent our interests in Brussels and to say when we are seeing such cuts at home there should be at least some reduction in the EU,” he said.

Cameron warned European Council president Herman van Rompuy at talks in London on Thursday that Britain could not support a sharp increase in the EU budget, after the European Commission in July called for a 5.0 percent hike.

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