Brexiteer MP corrected by fellow Tory for tweet blaming EU for 'austerity budget'

PUBLISHED: 12:28 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:01 02 September 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May talks with Conservative MP John Redwood. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA.

Prime Minister Theresa May talks with Conservative MP John Redwood. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A Brexiteer MP has been publicly corrected by a fellow Tory after he tweeted about the need to move on from an austerity budget - but blamed the EU, not his own party, for imposing it on the UK.

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Longtime eurosceptic John Redwood had almost 500 replies to his tweet which called for "the austerity budget framework laid down by the Maastricht Treaty" to be replaced by "new UK budget rules".

The tweet has been slammed as misleading for suggesting that the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for the creation of the euro, dictates the UK's fiscal and economic policies.

Embarrassingly for Redwood, the MP who negotiated the UK's exemption from EU budget control publicly corrected him in a tweet.

Conservative MP Vicky Ford responded, saying: "Actually the UK is exempted from EU fiscal rules - I negotiated the exemption supported by a team from HM Treasury led at that time by George Osborne."

Ford kindly pointed hardline eurosceptic Redwood at the exact line of the treaty.

Although the UK is a signatory to the treaty, it handles its own budget at the national level.

Ford was joined by financial commentator Frances Coppola, who said: "The UK is not bound by the Maastricht Treaty's budget rules, John. Only members of the euro are. I would expect an MP of your standing to know this."

As numerous Twitter users pointed out, austerity budgets have been a backbone of Tory policy for more than 10 years, which Redwood has consistently and enthusiastically supported.

Labour MP Wes Streeting pointed out the hypocrisy, calling Redwood a "charlatan" in a tweet and linking to a 2010 Telegraph article in which the Conservative MP called for his party to make "early and deep" spending cuts.

Redwood has always voted on the side of austerity on issues such as welfare benefits, job creation, assistance to local councils, housing benefit, and taxation of higher earners, mansion owners and bankers' bonuses.

As a general election approaches, the prime minister has been making headline-figure spending promises for schools, the NHS and no-deal readiness.

Echoing his leader's newfound love of spending, in his tweet he called for "new UK budget rules that combine prudence with a pro growth boost to the economy as we leave the EU".

Asked for comment, Redwood told the New European: "The UK has been observing the Maastricht debt and deficit criteria as a main guide to policy over the last decade as it has said, and has reported annually its progress to the EU. I did not speculate on what might have happened if the UK had chosen to ignore this policy."

Redwood also linked to a post on his blog arguing this point, which was uploaded after the tweet caused its furore.

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