So are Tory backbenchers happy with what George Osborne claims to have brought back from Europe after his talks on that £1.7 billion bill? While the government argues with the European Commission about what it has and hasn’t secured this afternoon, the Right of the Tory party have already been working out what they think. Some had set a very low limbo bar of £400 million, and Britain certainly will end up paying more than that.
The first thing is that they’re naturally not happy with the idea that Britain is paying anything. The basic view of those in the No Turning Back and Cornerstone groups is that Osborne should have turned around to the Commission and say ‘sorry chaps, we’ll see you in court about this’, given the court action would take place after the election. One says ‘there will be those who go around for the next few days saying that Osborne is still a pussy and he should have said that they can take us to court’. Another says he’s not happy but as someone committed to leaving the EU anyway, a bill of any size is just further evidence to back up his stance.
Some joke that Osborne should have stayed at the negotiating table for longer. Peter Bone says:
‘It’s not a bad afternoon’s work for the Chancellor. Give him two days and they will be paying us money!’
Similarly Andrew Bridgen says he accepts that the Chancellor has done all he could:
‘I do not think he could have done more: perhaps he could have got us some money back if he’d stayed longer.’