The chancellor is accused of over-hyping his own contribution to the budget reduction
A damning cross-party report has revealed the extent of George Osborne’s fabrication over the EU budget. As Left Foot Forward pointed out at the time, the reduction of the budget was not negotiated by the chancellor.
Last year, Osborne claimed to have halved the £1.7bn EU budget surcharge, meaning the UK would have to pay only half of what Brussels demanded. But today the Treasury Select Committee have delivered a report concluding that Osborne’s boasts were ‘not supported by evidence’.
Osborne claimed to have achieved success through negotiations, which the Committee say is an exaggeration, citing the UK rebate system which provides the UK with a refund on part of its contribution to the EU budget. Osborne said in November that it was unclear whether the rebate would apply.
The Committee refutes this, saying that Osborne should have known how the rebate applied, because EU law does not leave ‘a great deal of room for uncertainty’ on the matter:
“On the basis of the evidence the Committee has seen, it should have been unambiguously clear to the Treasury…that the UK was entitled to a rebate on any additional budget contributions that could arise from the GNI revisions.”
Commenting on the findings, Labour’s European Spokesperson on the EU Budget Clare Moody said:
“This report is hugely embarrassing for George Osborne. It clearly shows that the chancellor’s much-trumpeted victory over the European Commission was in fact a ruse, intended to inflate both his ability and influence.
“Britain’s commitments in respect of EU budget payments, and the circumstances surrounding the entitlement to a rebate, are enshrined in law. That the Chancellor would appear not to know this is, as the report states, surprising.
“Yet again, this government has deceived the British people about our relationship with the EU. In so doing, they have only served to further alienate our European allies, who increasingly view Cameron’s government as both incompetent and irrelevant.”
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.