David Cameron was “ambushed” by EU demands that the UK, currently economically outperforming its EU partners, pay an additional £1.7 billion into EU coffers, even as Brussels is set to pay £790 million to struggling France. As the Telegraph notes, the timing is anything but propitious:
Tories have been stunned by the news which comes just weeks before the critical by-election in Kent next month, which they will fight against Ukip, and as the European Parliament seeks additional increases to next year’s EU budget, at a extra cost to British taxpayers of £680 million.
It is worth remembering that there are lots of bureaucrats in the EU, as well as people in governments like France’s, that actually want to drive the UK out of the EU. Get those annoying Brits out, the thinking goes, and there will be that much less pressure for such odious ideas as limits on perks for eurocrats and EU parliamentarians, transparency in accounting, and pro-market economic reform.Plus, it will strengthen the hands of the southern debtor countries in the struggle over Europe’s monetary future. (This plays a larger role in EU thinking than many understand.) Even though the UK isn’t in the euro, the UK presence in the EU helps counterbalance the Club Med lobby for easy money, tolerance of embedded corruption, and the like. That’s ultimately why today we are witnessing the EU slapping the UK with a big bill: it is happening at a politically super-awkward time, and in a way guarantees an increase in support for a BREXIT inside the UK. David Cameron is being driven into a corner.