Earlier today Dan Hannan used his blog to highlight the fact that the EU is establishing what critics are calling an ‘Embassy to London’:
"Apparently, the European Parliament is about to open a new embassy to the UK: a vast office in Tothill Street, Westminster, employing 50 or more staff. The rent alone is said to be £1.3 million a year… You can understand why they would be keen to be posted here. Quite apart from the attractions of the metropolis, Euro-officials will qualify for a generous London living allowance and, if they are non-British, for an expatriation allowance… It’s harmless enough, I suppose. Next to the gazillions that the EU squanders in overseas aid, structural funds and the Common Agricultural Policy, the cost hardly signifies. But it annoys me all the same. Who decided that this embassy was needed? Were our own elected representatives involved? If not, why not? And if so, what the hell were they thinking?"
It seems that "elected representatives" were involved. Leader of the Tory MEPs Timothy Kirkhope knew about the ‘Embassy’ and didn’t exercise a right to object. Twelve Tory MEPs have reacted furiously and, in a further sign of their delegation’s deeply-divided nature,
have signed a letter to Mr Kirkhope accusing him of being "at odds" with the party’s European "reform" agenda.
The text of the letter is pasted below.
At the Conservative delegation meeting on Wednesday Edward McMillan Scott raised the issue of the new joint office that the Parliament and Commission are establishing on Tothill St in London. You admitted that you had viewed the proposed new premises but claimed that Dermot Scott had told you that you had no say in the actual decision.
It now transpires that the report to the Parliament bureau states that most of the UK delegation leaders have been consulted and are in agreement with this proposal. You have raised no objections when you had the opportunity in December to do so. This office is going to house over 50 staff and cost the European taxpayer £1.3 million a year in rental, despite Brussels only being 2 _ hours by train from London. Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom’s staff have apparently referred to the new premises as their "embassy" in London.
We cannot understand why you have not objected to this decision and have not consulted the Conservative bureau or delegation. It is completely at odds with our agenda of "reform" in Europe which includes obtaining value for money for the European taxpayer.
We urge you to immediately withdraw Conservative support from this proposal.
Martin Callanan MEP
Giles Chichester MEP
Nirj Deva MEP
Den Dover MEP
Dan Hannan MEP
Chris Heaton-Harris MEP
Roger Helmer MEP
Syed Kamall MEP
Robert Sturdy MEP
David Sumberg MEP
Charles Tannock MEP
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP"
ConservativeHome understands that the ‘Embassy’ isn’t all new money but is partly a merger of the EU’s existing London presence.