Darling Says U.K. Budget Would Get Leaked in ‘a Wine Bar’ by EU

Former U.K. finance minister Alistair Darling said that if the government showed its spending plans to the European Commission before presenting them to Parliament, the details would be revealed early.

“It will get leaked,” Darling said at “The Sovereign Debt Briefing” in London hosted by Bloomberg Link today. “They wouldn’t sit on a national budget without it coming out. You wouldn’t have to be hard working,” Darling said to the journalists in the audience. “You’d just hang around a wine bar and you’d have it.”

To coordinate budgets and avoid a repeat of the Greek debt crisis, European Union officials have suggested requiring governments to submit spending plans before allowing parliaments to vote on them. EU President Herman Van Rompuy yesterday denied there had been a proposal that finance ministers submit their budgets to the Commission “for approval” first.

“It is a fundamental part of our constitution that ministers are responsible to the House of Commons in relation to finance matters and that’s where the budget will be presented first of all,” Darling said. “Are you honestly saying the European Commission will be a better judge than the U.K. finance minister? I just think the whole thing is misguided.”

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