Whichever, the issue raised two rather different questions in my mind.
The first is the approach of the UK Government to promises and agreements which it makes. The famous ‘Vow’ given to Scotland isn’t the only example it seems – in the case of the EU, the government signed up to a set of rules and is now rejecting the outcome of their application. His word appears not to be his bond.
The second is what it says about Cameron’s attitude towards redistribution. The whole issue is presented as though the £1.7bn is simply going to be shovelled into a black hole in Brussels and used to pay fat cats and bureaucrats. But the purpose of this particular budgetary adjustment is to ensure that payments in more closely match countries’ ability to pay. That is, in essence, a redistributive approach – it’s not about penalising economic success as some have tried to present it.
There’s a parallel of sorts with the infamous Barnett formula, and with the recent referendum. I seem to remember Cameron and others repeating ad nauseam that one of the great advantages of ‘the’ union is its ability to pool and share resources. He didn’t really mean it then; and he certainly doesn’t mean it when it comes to the EU.