Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy’s drive to modernise key party
policies ran into trouble at his party’s Blackpool conference before it had
Traditionalists signalled they had no intention of trimming policies to suit
the leadership in a debate on plans for a one per cent cap on the EU budget.
The platform lost the vote after a series of pro-Europe speeches including
chartered accountant delegate Chris White, Lib Dem group leader on Hertfordshire
White said he was ‘deeply offended’ by the situation year after year in which
the European Commission presented accounts which were not ‘signed off’.
But he warned that any cap threatened a budget reduction which would be bound
to hit funding streams from Brussels vital to a number of UK local authorities.
He said the government was maintaining that the UK as a rich member state did
not need Brussels’ aid, but his retort to ministers was: ‘You need to get out
more.’ He said the Treasury’s promise to make up the missing funds was not to be
After conference voted against the cap, Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable
said: ‘The only people who will derive comfort from this are the Europhiles.’
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