The UK is heading for yet another bruising fight with the EU, this time over the grotesquely swollen budget that the Eurocrats have drawn up. Here’s the lede of the FT story on the coming budgetary High Noon:
Brussels is bracing itself for a battle with David Cameron as fears grow that the British prime minister will block a proposed €1tn seven-year spending plan and push for a two-tier EU budget.
Mr Cameron is understood to be interested in Brussel’s longer-term plan of a separate spending programme for the eurozone, with UK and European officials considering a compromise that would see the EU budget split in two – marking a further acceleration towards a divided Europe.
For Cameron, the politics of confrontation with the EU look good. In addition to the budget showdown, he’s threatening to call a referendum on the relationship next year and fights with Brussels tend to unify the Tory Party behind its leader and the country behind the Tories.
But Britain may not stand quite alone in the upcoming battle of the budget. Even these days, €1 trillion is a lot of money. As government after government across Europe lays off civil servants, cuts teachers, slashes pensions and raises retirement ages to meet Europe’s tough fiscal requirements, a lot of people will start to ask why the European Union gets to increase its spending at a time when its member governments are all cutting back.
If enough people ask that question, Cameron may not stand alone when he rises to oppose Europe’s budget plan.