Timothy Kirkhope, who leads the Conservatives in the European Parliament, has written to Gordon Brown in advance of the Prime Minister's speech to the Parliament next week.
"Dear Prime Minister,
Next week, you intend to travel to Strasbourg supposedly to lecture the European Parliament on the economic downturn. Given your previous disinterest as Chancellor in attending European meetings, I am not sure that your presence now as Prime Minister will be greeted very warmly.
I also doubt many MEPs will be prepared to heed your economic advice given that the IMF now predicts that Britain's recession will be deeper and longer than in most other parts of the World. In addition, in January the European Commission forecasted that the UK economy will contract by one percent above the EU average. Several European ministers have also criticised your economic policies – including notably the German Finance Minister, Peer Steinbruck.
The British people will no doubt ask why their Prime Minister continues to seek international fora on which to grandstand when he should surely be focusing on the myriad of problems at home.
However, at this difficult time, there is one simple but concrete action you could take at the European Council to show that the EU is serious about cutting down on its own waste: scrapping the European Parliament's two-seat operation.
Such a proposal would save European taxpayers several hundred million pounds and save the environment tens of thousands of tonnes of unnecessary CO2 emissions. While this in no way equates to the tens of billions of pounds Britain has spent on bank bailouts and ineffective VAT cuts, it would at least send an important and positive signal.
Why not demand that the item be placed on the summit agenda in lieu of the planned debate on the Lisbon Treaty? It really is time for the council to resist the ongoing duplicitous and distracting efforts to revive the Lisbon Treaty, and finally focus on areas where 27 nations working together can indeed bring value – particularly in relation to the financial crisis and climate change and in curbing unnecessary expenditure like that incurred in relation to the Strasbourg parliament.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP
Conservative Leader in the European Parliament"