IT was quite like old times in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon during an emergency debate called by Conservative EU-sceptic veterans to denounce proposed EU budget increases and stiffen David Cameron's back at the summit meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow. Peter Lilley, once famously identified by John Major as among the bastards who were making his life impossible over the Maastricht Treaty was in familiar form, as was Bernard
Jenkin and also Peter Bone who went out of his way to praise Bill Cash's unreformed opposition to the EU. Perhaps these old-stagers had not heard the news that the government had decided it was now too late to oppose the 435 million pound increase in Britain's contribution to the EU budget for next year despite the impression given by Mr Cameron last week that he would be fighting to block it at the summit. Instead, the government's line is that it will devote its energies to finding allies to prevent any increase in the overall EU budget for 2014-2020 which is due to be negotiated next year.
Lacking any last ditch budget stand by Britain, this summit is likely to be dominated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's bid to reopen the Lisbon Treaty in order to ensure that any future financial bail-outs of EU members along the recent deal for Greece should be placed on a legally watertight basis in the Treaty and not dealt with on an ad hoc basis.