The Daily Telegraph has revealed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to tell David Cameron about the £1.7bn bill which the European Commission demanded of Britain for having a growing economy.
The Prime Minister issued a strong message to other Brussels leaders after many of his own MPs said the bill was unacceptable.
George Osborne found out about the additional bill levied on the UK at the beginning of the week but David Cameron was only informed on Thursday as he attended a European Council summit in Brussels.
The latest news which will outrage tax payers and provide a further headache for the Prime Minister, particularly ahead of the by-election in Rochester and Strood, is that the German Chancellor has told Cameron to pay up.
According to a secret diplomatic record of talks seen by The Telegraph, Mrs Merkel turned to Mr Cameron in the meeting on Thursday and said “This did not come out of the blue.”
“I understand that it is difficult to come up with €2 billion [£1.7billion] David, but this should have been expected.”
Diplomats last night described her intervention as “cold-blooded and ruthless”.
Mrs Merkel has backed the new Commission President Jean Claude Juncker who Mr Cameron tried to stop becoming the President of the European Commission. Mr Juncker told the Prime Minister to pay up within five weeks, saying “You must show some political courage, there is nothing that can be done.”
However, giving in to Brussels is more likely to be political suicide for the Prime Minister who has said he can secure key reforms of the EU and the country will not need to withdraw.
The European Commission issued the Treasury with the demand for payment by 1st December but the Prime Minister told reporters at a press conference in the Belgian capital that “if people think we are [going to pay the bill] they have another thing coming.”
George Osborne told BBC radio he had learnt about the demand
Mr Cameron’s insistence that Britain had been caught off guard by the demand was rejected by Brussels sources, who said officials from the Office for National Statistics had supplied the economic data on which the new settlement was based.
This seemed to be backed up by the Dutch government which said it had been expecting to pay more and set aside the reserves.
A European Commission official said officials from Britain’s Office for National Statistics have been in talks on the revision of EU contributions for the last year.