18th Jan 2019

Tory MEP to launch anti-tax 'Tea Party' group

  • Dan Hannan says tea parties should happen in Europe too (Photo: Peppercorn Pixie)

British Conservative MEP Dan Hannan is jealous that Europe does not have its own anti-tax "Tea Party" movement, as in the US, and has decided to start one himself.

On Saturday (27 February), the eurosceptic deputy is to launch the "Brighton Tea Party," in reference to the Boston Tea Party that kicked off the American Revolution and, in recent times, has sponsored a series of anti-Obama demonstrations against stimulus spending, healthcare legislation and climate change bills.

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Mr Hannan is inspired by the anti-tax element of the protests, saying Europe is on the verge of constructing an EU-level tax system, and believes that under the surface, there is potential for as much grass-roots opposition to increased public spending on this side of the Atlantic as in the US.

"During the first mandate that I was here in Brussels, the main theme was the erection of a common justice and home affairs area; the second term, the big issue was the Lisbon Treaty and I am convinced that for this term, the EU is fixated on constructing fiscal independence from the member states," he told EUobserver.

"It was striking during the hearings for the new commission how many commissioners want the EU to have more of its own revenue streams," he said, highlighting EU Council President Herman van Rompuy's recent backing for European economic governance. "Obviously, they had talked about this before."

"I don't think an EU income tax is on the cards yet, but certainly green taxes and taxes on financial transactions," Mr Hannan explained.

His immediate organising focus is in the UK ahead of this year's general election in opposition to Labour government tax hikes. The Saturday launch of the Brighton Tea Party will take place alongside the UK Conservative party's "Spring Forum" convention in the south-western city.

But the MEP believes that an anti-tax movement would have "enormous resonance across the EU."

"The paradox is that the US Tea Party movement is inspired by the slogan 'No taxation without representation' and they do actually elect their representatives. In the EU, there genuinely is taxation without representation," he said.

In the US, the protests have been hailed by figures such as right-wing talk radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and ex-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Democrats and progressives have called them "astroturf" - a fake grassroots campaign that in reality is bankrolled by corporations and conservative think-tanks.

The British version is backed by the Freedom Association, a libertarian pressure group of which Mr Hannan is a member.

The anti-tax element is not the only aspect of the US movement which the Tory politician admires, being also a strong critic of publicly funded healthcare.

Last year the MEP was branded an "eccentric" by his party leader, David Cameron, after he toured the US criticising Britain's National Health Service in a series of television appearances at the height of the summer's Tea Party protests.

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