If Cameron knows he cannot stop this increase, then why oppose it? If he opposes it and loses he will look a chump. Cameron does not want to look stupid, but by opposing something he cannot stop he loses face and looks stupid. It depends on how he can spin this, but whatever he decides to do he cannot win.
Cameron is saying he will lead a rebellion. He can only fail to do that if someone beats him to the punch. He is doing just enough to not appear to us to be a Euro-weenie without rocking the boat in Brussels. So long as he sticks to their
rules he is not a threat to them but can pretend to be.
A far fetched alternative: Cameron has got wind of plans by Germany and/or France to demand something similar and wants to get in there first.
Is Gavin Hewitt correct to suggest
that if the 2011 budget is not agreed the 2010 budget gets repeated?
The mood in Strasbourg, however, was very different. They agreed to increase the EU budget by 5.9% - almost the same level as proposed by the Commission. There were 92 MEPs who voted in favour of freezing the budget, but 564 supported an increase.
British ministers called it "outrageous". One senior diplomat in Brussels called the decision "nuts". Today one British Liberal Democrat MEP, Chris Davies, said it was plain barmy for the EU to be demanding extra contributions from member countries. David Cameron told the House of Commons in London: "We've called for a cash freeze in the size of the EU budget for 2011 and we're working very hard to make the case across Europe."
Quite a number of countries take the British view, although a majority would settle for an increase of 2.9%. There will now be an attempt to reach a compromise between the Council and the Parliament. If no deal is reached, then the 2010 budget continues. That is favoured by the British, who believe it would be in tune with the spirit of the times.
I would hate to think they have intentionally pencilled in 6% in order to make 3% look agreeable.