Timothy Kirkhope: The EU must not have a veto over our budget

HIGH-RANKING EU mandarins woke up to a new reality this week: the new British Government does not cross red lines.

The EU has sought broad new powers to vet Britain's budget figures under the auspices of worrying that a Greek-style crisis could be on its way in the UK. They also want to step up surveillance of our economic calculations and statistics. Sorry gentlemen, but "Non!"

Mr Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, wants the EU to have first refusal on the British budget and wants to see it all before it is put to MPs and the British public.

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Even though the plans are still yet to be adopted, I understand Mr Van Rompuy had the cheek to ask George Osborne for a copy of the emergency budget before anyone else.

Of course, European countries do need to ensure that the principles of sound monetary policy, fiscal responsibility and honest government accounting are never flagrantly disregarded again. However, I think we can learn the lessons without resorting to another EU power grab.

This was tried before five years ago and we were vigorous in rejecting it then, but sensing weakness in many EU capitals, and in the wake of the economic downturn and the threat to the euro, they tried again.

In Europe, the Conservative Party has pledged to play a constructive role. We want to engage positively and frame the European debate. We want to be a key player on the European stage after many years of relative anonymity under Labour.

For our part, we fully support global and European reforms that strengthen markets, promote confidence and transparency and produce better results for businesses and households here.

But some decisions are best taken at home, by us, for us. As our Chancellor George Osborne and the Prime Minister have shown ahead of today's EU summit, we certainly won't shy away from the difficult choices needed to reform banking and financial regulation. If we don't act, it is estimated that in five years time the interest we will pay on our debt could be around 70bn – that's more than we currently spend on schools in England, on climate change and

on transport combined.

This is the awful Labour legacy left to Britain after their spending, borrowing and empire-building. All their quangos, all their bureaucracy and all their needless waste has cost Britain dearly.

We know that the previous government made many mistakes in its economic policy for the whole country, but Yorkshire was particularly hard hit in terms of economic growth and unemployment. The financial services and manufacturing sectors were very badly hit, with tens of thousands of job losses.

We must work to restore the morale of our region and Labour's neglect must not be allowed to destroy the future chances of Yorkshire people.

I was in the last Conservative government when we had to clean up Labour's mess. We will have to do it again. It will not be a pleasant task but we need to cut spending and we need to get on with it urgently.

We will however do it in a way that protects the poorest and most vulnerable. We must safeguard our economy and get things back onto an even keel. There are some very tough decisions ahead and no-one is saying that it is going to be easy.

This does not mean though that we will allow the EU to have their say on Britain's tax and spending decisions. Letting them do so would have been a major victory in stripping away a key plank of our sovereignty: our right to determine what Britain needs to do to steer itself out of the treacherous economic waters that it currently finds itself in. I absolutely do not believe that this is what my constituents in Yorkshire want to happen.

The coalition Government has wisely agreed that Britain will not be part of the single European Currency for at least the lifetime of this Parliament. That means that we will retain and hold on to our fiscal independence. This is a power that our neighbours across the Eurozone are, for the most part, envying in the current economic climate.

Our national parliament in Westminster is also a sovereign parliament. While we don't mind sharing some information along broad parameters with our colleagues in the EU to give them a sense of our plans and which direction our economy is heading, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said this week: "There is no question of anyone other than MPs at Westminster seeing our budget first".

The EU cannot be given a veto over Britain's budget.