Coffee House

EU budget: MPs warned revolt ‘could undermine coalition’

30 October 2012

5:45 PM

30 October 2012

5:45 PM

It was inevitable that the new team of whips was going to be rather unsettled by tomorrow’s vote on the EU budget: it’s the first challenge the team has had to face. But what is surprising is quite how serious their palpitations are. I understand from a number of Conservative MPs that one of the key threats isn’t you-won’t-get-a-promotion-in-this-government, or we’ll-reveal-the-truth-about-your-mistress, but that a big rebellion tomorrow will threaten the very stability of the coalition government.

When I was first told this, I found it slightly incredible: this is a non-binding vote where the popular amendment calls for the Prime Minister to go further than he has promised in negotiations, rather than directly contradicting his stance. But MP after MP has confirmed to me that the whips are using this threat to quell the rebellion. I understand that one whip has even been suggesting that if Labour joins forces with the eurosceptics and supports the Reckless/Pritchard amendment calling for a real-terms cut, this will undermine confidence in David Cameron so completely that there will have to be a vote of confidence in his leadership by the end of this week.


Now, this is ridiculous. The amendment that MPs are signing up to – and the list now numbers around 40, those in the rebel camp tell me – is not actually that dangerous for the Prime Minister. For one thing, it is not binding on him. He could also use it to his advantage in negotiations at the budget summit in November, telling other European leaders that he has a vote from his own parliament calling for a cut and that therefore he must push for this sort of deal. The major downside is that it could position Labour as a party of fiscal discipline, which is amusingly implausible. But this is an unnecessary threat from the whips and makes them appear frozen with panic.

Other MPs are being invited to meetings – not just with Sir George Young – but also with the Prime Minister and George Osborne. There is a meeting for backbench MPs in Downing Street tonight, as well, but those who have not yet decided whether to rebel have been offered the personal ear of Cameron or the Chancellor. Normally a wavering MP would be escalated through the ranks, from a PPS to the Secretary of State responsible for the rebellion, through to a minister, and then up to Downing Street. But the new regime is to fast-track them straight to Cameron and Osborne. There are a number of problems with this. The first is that some MPs I’ve spoken to are so cheesed off with the party leadership and feel so long neglected by them that they don’t even want to attend a meeting. The second is that this makes this appear a full-on whipping operation over a vote which isn’t even binding.

Even though his spokespeople have so far refused to say that the Prime Minister’s personal desire would be for a real-terms cut, I would expect Cameron to suggest something to this effect himself before tomorrow’s vote. But the whips have now heated the rebellion amply for MPs to be whizzing around with excitement at the prospect of another revolt.

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Show comments

    Clearly it’s a matter of opinion if the vote is necessary. The whipping of thehprevious vote shows that Mr Cameron is being forced to concede a stronger commitment. One of the factors driving it is the Eurozone crisis. Normally certainty isn’t possible in social sciences but it is a matter of mathematics that if you contract the economy the debt:GDP ratio worsens.

    J. Warner of Telegraph reported on Saturday about the first realistic forecast there has been about the EZ programmes. They said that the structural deficit in Spain will remain the same as a % /GDP. One factor is as the economy contracts a steady state would produce a worse metric.The Archbishop of Toledo has just made a cogent statement about the situation.

    Also just as in UK, borrowing means increased debt service costs which edges out other government expenditure.

    Western Europe should never again had unemployment of 26 % (Greece Spain). Is this because of Euro or despite it.

    US economics professor said the ‘countries with large amounts of intellectual capital can make BAD mistakes for NOBLE reasons.

    Boris was right to say that it was intellectually and morally wrong for DC & GO to recommend closer union when trumpet the advantages of being outside.

    It gets even worse than this – Germany will never pick up any more bills for the S. The Cyprus bailout (final version) demands that Cyprus finds 13 billion up from 5.8 billion (this figure was 1/3 GDP) NOW it is 3/4 GDP. Also Germany is right. If you add up their contribution to bailouts & ECB purchases plus the 720 billion lent by Bundesbank to S central banks you get 1 TRILLION. Even if only 1/4 is lost that is .25 TRILLION. THe


  • telekuka

    We must strive for unity. If the coalition breaks up, Eton will win the boat race!

  • ScaryBiscuits

    What the chief whip means is that any revolt will undermine Dave. Saying that that in turn would undermine the coalition is to buy into the myth that the LibDems are kept on-board by Cameron’s unique charisma, rather than the threat of electoral anniliation, is stretching matters.

  • Y Rhyfelwr Dewr

    Yeah, because the LibDems are really going to force an election over giving more more money to Europe at a time when they are greatly out-polled by UKIP. Would Nick Clegg still have a job the morning after the election? Since the LibDems have no safe seats, it is not inconceivable that, if the campaign went really badly for them, they could end up with no seats in Parliament at all.

  • Mr L

    If a vote for common sense would undermine the coalition, then so much the worse for the coalition. Are we to appease the Lib Dems at huge and unnecessary expense?
    Can somebody please tell me where I might find an intellectually coherent explanation of why British membership of this corrupt and bureaucratic organisation is justified?

  • Archimedes

    “The major downside is that it could position Labour as a party of fiscal discipline”


    • dalai guevara

      Rephrase: shocking if true.
      The demise of the coalition is going faster than I thought.

  • redrum

    It’s a no brainer – of course they should vote against the government. The Coalition was “undermined” in about May 2010 so they shouldn’t worry about it 🙂

  • The Sage

    Excellent news. Keep the pressure on.

  • Gerry Dorrian

    But will they revolt?

    • alexsandr

      they are all revolting!

    • David Lindsay


      Rather like on Maastricht, the Conservative rebels will all be “impossible”, anyway. Fun and funny on telly. But not serious politicians. And not very numerous.

  • peterbuss

    I’m with Camerron on this. Tory Mp’s really have got to grow up in the harsh world of big boy politics and realise it does them and the Party nio good whatsoever with these constant rebeliions.For goodness sake Clegg himself has given his backing to a veto and thats what Cameron is going armed with – limited though it will be in value. I get fed up with the self indulgence of these MP’sd who were elected on a manifesto commitment that we would play a full and constructive part in the EU but want us now to act in a wholly different way.

    • HooksLaw

      And given the EU is going to evolve away from us its doubly thick.

      • peterbuss

        Thankyou good friend. An island of sanity amongst the darkness!

    • @PhilKean1

      I think you are wanting things both ways, Peter.

      Cameron’s party were elected on the basis that they would pursue a robust policy of ceding no more Sovereignty to the EU.
      The Liberals were expecting Cameron to take account of this at the Coalition negotiations. No such demands were made.

      Since then, contrary to what we were led to believe, Cameron’s Party has been THE most pro-Federal Party ever. The full consequences of Cameron’s support for the EU will only fully be known when he is removed from office.

      Therefore, pro-Sovereignty MPs are under no obligation to do anything other than fight for Britain’s national interest at all times.

      • perdix

        If you think that Cameron has been pro-Federal at any time you must have been living on another planet!

    • Barney12345

      “Clegg himself has given his backing” I think therein lies your problem

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      You’re ignoring the fact that Cameron WASN’T elected on the CONs Manifesto: he failed to get a majority.
      His Manifesto said that powers would be reclaimed from the EU and he has done nothing about that …. instead transferring more and more over.

    • Vulture

      “I’m with Cameron on this…’ But you’re with Cameron on everything, Peter! Tell us something we didn’t know. There is no policy, no matter how abject, treacherous or just plain idiotic that you would not follow your dear leader along down the road to Hell.

  • @PhilKean1

    Could undermine the Coalition?

    Insulting assertion. They are getting desperate.

    The pressure is on, and the momentum is with us. Time to keep the foot on the accelerator pedal.

    • Heartless etc.,

      Could undermine the Coalition?

      TOUGH !!

    • telemachus

      Sound like you and I and the rest of the reasonable faction are at one
      We could have build for growth sooner than everyone thought

      • telekuka

        having a bad hair day, darling?

  • David Lindsay

    Told you.

    But you won’t learn.

    There will be a tiny, tiny number of Conservative votes against. Alongside 257 Labour, and the entire contingents of the DUP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP, probably also the SNP and the one member of the Alliance Party, and certainly the one Labour-allied Independent Unionist. All of whom the entire media will ignore completely while some comedy character from the infinitesimal “Tory” rebellion is put on air for a laugh.

    • HooksLaw

      The Labour Party?
      But they negotiated the treaty which set a minimum 2% increase in the budget. Now they are saying the govt should, or even could, negotiate a cut?

      • David Lindsay


        Why not? Labour reverted to its historical norm when David Miliband was defeated. Both the fact that he was, and how. Unless done by Gordon Brown or his closest associates (such as staying out of the euro), and in some cases even then (such as not regulating the banks properly), what passed between the death of John Smith and the election of Ed Miliband was the work of a different party which no longer exists.

      • HellforLeather

        So your incompetent lot continue to borrow and spend at a rate far exceeding that of Gordon Brown (and, by the way, I do despise him and his lot) — despite Cameron and Osborne preaching (falsely) austerity.

        And your lot robustly reinforced, with no effective results, Brown’s policy of devaluing pensioners’ savings, and the currency, by inducing artifically low interest rates via printing of money on a Mugabonomics scale.

        You would, if you were honest, tag yourself CrooksLaw.

      • Boudicca_Icenii

        They didn’t ‘negotiate’ the treaty. They capitulated to the Kommissars and rammed it through Parliament without holding the promised Referendum. Why anyone would believe Labour’s grandstanding on EUscepticism is beyond me. When they had the responsibility to protect the British people and our own Sovereignty and Constitution, they failed abysmally. Miliband would do the same.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      You were wrong, oh wise one. Wrong. Your judgment is suspect. But at least you didn’t need to get there by way of Kier Hardie, the Webbs and Clem this time. Please consider the possibility that your world view is warped and your copious regurgitation of socialist history is irrelevant.

  • RatherAnnoyedPleb

    My schadenfreude at Dave’s party management problems is reaching agreeably tingly proportions! What goes around…