Yesterday the Commons passed another EU Finance Bill. UK voters will have to pay more tax to send a bit more money to the EU as a result. The Minister assured us it would have been a lot more if the UK had not cut the EU budget, and if the UK had no rebate. He reminded us just how much we have lost thanks to Labour giving away an important part of the rebate for no gain.
The two main opposition parties, Labour and the SNP, supported the Bill. They told us they wanted to fund the EU as they wished the UK to stay in come what may. UKIP did not attend the session. Conservative Eurosceptics asked questions and highlighted the problems with sending more money to the EU, aided by the Labour member for Luton North, Mr Hopkins.
I asked Labour if there was any tax demand from the EU that they would oppose. Their front bench confirmed there was not. In office they had allowed a large increase in the EU budget, an increase in UK contributions, and had given away an important part of the rebate. For once SNP and Labour seemed to be in agreement about something.
I made the point that if we have a new relationship based on trade, friendship and co-operation we would not need to pay this huge subscription, and could have a tax cut. Jacob Rees Mogg pointed out they needed to consider the gross contribution after abatement, because if we were free to choose for ourselves we might choose to spend the money the EU does spend in the UK in other ways. Labour said the details of EU finance were not clear, and that the change they wanted was a better explanation. I cannot see what is unclear about the UK’s large net contribution to the EU. It is tax money we pay them so they can spend it in other countries. Voters understand that, even if some MPs do not.