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Cameron: UK Won't Pay £1.7bn EU Bill Next Month

David Cameron has angrily insisted the UK will not pay £1.7bn being demanded by the European Union by next month.

"If people think I am paying that bill on 1 December, they have another thing coming," the prime minister said in Brussels. "It is not going to happen."

He said the demand was "totally unacceptable" and no way for the EU to behave - and he wanted to examine how they arrived at the amount.

EU finance ministers have agreed to the UK's request for emergency talks.

The demand from Brussels would add about a fifth to the UK's annual net EU contribution of £8.6bn.

'Lethal weapon'

Mr Cameron said he was "downright angry" and said the British public would find the "vast" sum "totally unacceptable".

"It is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work - to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money with so little time to pay it," he said.

"It is an unacceptable way to treat a country which is one of the biggest contributors to the EU."

He added: "We are not going suddenly to get out our cheque book and write a cheque for 2bn euros. It is not going to happen."


Analysis by BBC Political Correspondent Ross Hawkins

David Cameron

He sounded like a prime minister unleashed; by turns scornful and furious, lectern thumping, downright angry.

It seemed he was doing exactly what UKIP leader Nigel Farage demanded - refusing the European Commission any money at all.

But David Cameron was well in control.

He said he would not pay on 1 December, but did not rule out paying later.

He accepted the principle of a fluctuating EU budget that meant bills went up as well as down.

After that performance he cannot, and surely will not, pay what the Commission demands.

But by how far can he negotiate down the bill? Half of £1.7bn, a quarter, a third; all represent big money.

Were he to refuse to pay whatever the Commission finally demands, could he still persuade EU leaders in vital, future negotiations?

For a party leader battling Mr Farage, the pictures on the TV news tonight will be perfect.

If his diplomats can't do a decent deal, they will come back to haunt him.


Mr Cameron said his position was backed by several other European leaders whose countries are also being tapped for more money, claiming his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi had described the demands as a "lethal weapon".

He said that he first heard about the EU's demands on Thursday but acknowledged that the Treasury knew about it last week.

But addressing who had known the details first, he said "you didn't need to be an expert in Cluedo to know when you have been clubbed with the lead piping in the library".

There has been anger across the political spectrum in the UK at the EU's demand for additional money, which comes just weeks before the vital Rochester and Strood by-election, where UKIP is trying to take the seat from the Conservatives.

Drugs and prostitution

The surcharge follows an annual review of the economic performance of EU member states since 1995, which showed Britain has done better than previously thought. Elements of the black economy - such as drugs and prostitution - have also been included in the calculations for the first time.

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George Osborne: ''It's unacceptable to be presented with a multi-billion pound demand with six weeks to pay''

The UK and the Netherlands are among those being asked to pay more, while France and Germany are both set to receive rebates. The UK is being asked to pay the most.

Several Conservative MPs have said the UK should refuse to pay the sum, describing it as "illegal".

EU diplomats told Reuters that finance ministers would meet to discuss the issue, while Downing Street is pressing for "a full political-level discussion" well before 1 December.

It is not clear whether there will be a separate meeting or whether the issue will be discussed at a scheduled meeting of EU finance ministers next month.

'Thirsty vampire'

Labour said Mr Cameron had failed to explain how long it had known about the EU proposals, suggesting he had delayed making it public over fears about how it would go down with voters.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it was wrong that an "unfair" bill had been "sprung upon" the UK but suggested that the Treasury should have acted sooner.


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