The Government's position on Europe is very simple: the UK cannot increase its contributions to the EU when we are cutting spending at home. In today's debate on the UK's contributions I pointed out that this Government is much more hardline on Europe than the opposition were in Government, and it is hypocrisy for them to position themselves against us.
The House will recall that for every one of the 13 years of Labour government, there were above-inflation increases in the European Union.
Greg Clark (Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
My hon. Friend is totally right. The last time the country had the misfortune to be in the hands of a Labour Government, including the shadow Foreign Secretary, who was Europe Minister at the time, far from agreeing even a real-terms freeze or a cut, they increased the budget over seven years by 8%. That is the record of the Opposition.
It is not just the overall total. Once more we see the usual suspects circling round Britain's budget rebate. That rebate was secured for future generations by Margaret Thatcher at Fontainebleau—the rebate which Tony Blair and his Europe Minister, the shadow Foreign Secretary, put on the table in 2005, in the negotiation of the current multiannual financial framework. Of course, when I say negotiation, what I mean is unconditional surrender, giving away in perpetuity a large part of the rebate in return for nothing. If seven days is a long time in politics, seven years is even longer. The amendment to the motion would delete all mention of this betrayal. The act would be forgotten, but the consequences have not gone away.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. I hope to be re-elected to serve our community for another term.
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