Prime minister Tony Blair has been treated to a storm of criticism in the British parliament, and the press, over the budget deal he struck with the European Union, after two days of haggling last week in the European Council, in Brussels. The political flak at home is largely over having ceded part of London’s EU rebate.
Opposition leader David Cameron fired off in the House of Commons: “Europe needed to be led in a new direction. Aren’t we simply heading in the same direction but paying a bigger bill.”
“He supports enlargement and he supports the wealthy countries paying for the poorer countries, but he doesn’t support Britain paying any money for it. And he talks about a crisis in the European Union. What sort of crisis would there be if he were in charge with that policy? He talks about the rebate; Let me tell him: The rebate, as I’ve just explained, is rising not falling, because it remains on all common agricultural policy money. And when he says and his backbenchers say ¨Why isn’t France paying for this¨? …France is getting a bigger net contribution loss than Britain in the next financial perspective.”
Blair accused his opponent of consorting with “fascists and nutters”. Conservatives and Liberal critics describe the British EU presidency’s budget deal as a climb down.