No reason to be jolly

By Tom Wise MEP“TIS the season to be jolly” or it should have been. However, there was not much to be jolly about in Brussels over the last few weeks of 2005 from a British point of view.

By Tom Wise MEP

“TIS the season to be jolly” or it should have been. However, there was not much to be jolly about in Brussels over the last few weeks of 2005 from a British point of view.

The last time I wrote, I was bemoaning the lack of visibility of British ministers in the EU parliament during the British Presidency. During the Strasbourg session in December, one of them was over an hour late for his appointment to speak to the assembled MEP's and then to sign the budget for the coming year. One of the Labour MEPs blamed the traffic, but when the Minister arrived, he claimed that he had been told the wrong time! All those advisors and yet they cannot get their excuses sorted out!

The next week saw Tony Blair's capitulation to his chums, the other Heads of State, on the EU budget for the period 2007-13. Despite his earlier protestations that the British rebate was not an item for discussion, let alone on the table, we saw his massive climb down whereby Britain WILL contribute more by, you guessed, foregoing part of our rebate!


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Now forgive me for being naïve, but if our Prime Minister says something, shouldn't we believe him? I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

And so, as the final act of his Presidency, Mr Blair came to Brussels on the Tuesday before Christmas to address MEPs and tell them what a wonderful chap he was. Yes, he had concluded a budget deal. No, he admitted, it was not the best possible deal, but it was the best deal possible. Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

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However, the highlight of the day for me, having waited patiently for over 90 minutes for the great man to turn up, was the initial look of abject horror on his face when he saw all the UKIP MEPs in the front row.

We had done a German - got there early and put our towels on the seats! No escape for him. And no sensible answers either to the questions from MEPs of all shades of political opinion. He could please no-one, it seemed, save himself and those deluded enough to take everything at face value.

After an initial round of questions, Mr Blair claimed that there were three sorts of politicians, lashing out at UKIP, calling us “reactionaries.”. He went on: “The next group are…” “Sycophants” I offered, bringing a smile. My point was made. But we all marched out in protest when Roger Knapman, UKIP party leader, was denied the opportunity to ask a question.

We now know just how much contempt he holds not only his political opponents, but also other British ministers. According to press reports, not even Gordon Brown knew of the increased cost Britain will bear in the years to come. But then, Mr Blair will not be there to be held to account, will he?

Having started on a seasonal note, I will conclude in the same vein with a few predictions.

- The EU Constitution will be implemented bit by bit, without any reference to us, the electorate.

- The ODPM will continue to demand a massive increase in house building across the six counties.

- There will be more powers given to the Regional aspect of local government.

- The Home Office - also as part of the regionalisation plan - will dictate that there will be one police force in the Eastern region.

The season to be jolly? Can someone tell me why, please? Happy New Year!

Tom Wise is one of two Euro MPs for the East of England, representing the East of England. He can be contacted by e-mail at thwise@europarl.eu.int

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