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This will not damage UK concessions won recently after long negotiations but it will deny the European Commission the right to claim that the measure has been passed unanimously by member states, which will “keep the door open” for future debate on the issue.

The news came from British Art Market Federation chairman Anthony Browne in an extensive interview with the Gazette to mark the fifth anniversary of BAMF.

Normally, member states who do not agree with a directive will abstain, but Mr Blair’s decision to vote ‘No’ underlines the strength of feeling in Government against the levy. As the directive was subject to qualified majority voting, no single member state has the power of veto and Britain has been unable to block droit de suite because it has always been in too small a minority in opposing the measure.

• For the full interview with Anthony Browne, see page four of this week’s Gazette.