David Cameron appears to be looking for a suite of examples for his party that he’s still fighting their corner. He’s about to deliver his speech on offenders, and his spokesman has just suggested he’s up for a real scrap on the European Union budget, too.
The FT’s splash this morning is that Angela Merkel is threatening to cancel next month’s European budget summit if Britain refuses to approve any other deal than a total freeze on spending. The paper reports that Merkel believes there is no point in holding the summit if Cameron is going to veto any deal on the table. The problem for the German Chancellor is that if Cameron vetoes a deal, it will be good for him politically, but bad for Merkel as Germany will lose its rebate and therefore will have to contribute more.
If that threat was supposed to worry Number 10, it doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said this morning:
‘We don’t see a case for increases in spending above the rate of inflation.’
This suggests that there could be a small increase in the budget that is below inflation. What is most likely is that an agreement is reached to freeze the budget, rather than Cameron vetoing any other deal. But it’s important for the Prime Minister to be clear that he’s keen for more veto moments to keep his party on side.