Anger at ‘Euro talking shop’ costing Britain £35million a year | Politics | News

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Tory MPs have urged Rishi Sunak to pull out of a European “talking shop” that costs the UK £35million a year.

They want to quit the Council of Europe – an organisation that has attacked Government plans to stop migrants arriving illegally in small boats.

Despite leaving the EU, the UK remains a member and sends a delegation to “assembly” sessions four times a year.

Former Armed Forces minister Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, said: “I don’t think British tax payers will understand why we’re spending £35million on a European talking shop when there’s so much it could be better spent on here.”

And Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, a former whip, said: “Winston Churchill said ‘Jaw Jaw is better than War War’, but I do wonder at times how effective a talking shop the Council of Europe is.”

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Although not part of the EU, the 46-member Council describes it as its “main institutional partner”. The Council employs 2,200 people and has a budget of £413.6million.

Meetings usually take place in its Strasbourg HQ – known as the Palace of Europe – but May’s session was held in the European Parliament. They typically last for a week and involve 324 representatives, including 18 from the Commons and Lords.

Topics for the June 19 assembly include “social inclusion of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons through sport”.

CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic has written to the Commons and Lords Speakers to criticise the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, currently going through Parliament, which will make it easier to remove people who come to the UK unlawfully.

She said: “The Bill’s provisions create clear and direct tension with well-established and fundamental human rights standards”.

Ms Mijatovic warned: “Passing the Bill would add to the already significant regression in the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the UK in the last few years.”

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