Are EU costs under control? William Hague thought they were. In fact, he was so confident about it he told the Tory Party Conference so in Manchester. However Brussels MEPs have now voted for an almost 5% rise in the EU budget, which now rises to more than £112bn.
Equivalent to a £300m increase in the annual net £8.3bn overall contribution Britain pays. Yet yesterday Hague told a packed Manchester conference hall that "When we said that the costs of the EU budget were out of control we were right, and now we have had unprecedented success in bringing it under control."
Oops. No wonder the Conservatives seem desperate to avoid any meaningful mention or debate in Manchester about Britain's place in Europe. You do wonder how the European Commission could even begin to think about hiking the budget when so much of the EU is reining spending back.
CAPped?Meanwhile we have very little information on how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be changed or modified in future. It's important because CAP scoffs up such a huge chunk - more than 40% - of the EU's total annual budget.
Interesting to see if the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee will, next Tuesday, decide to give MPs the opportunity to debate an EU referendum following a public e-petition that raised 100,000 signatures. How likely? Er...