PM's EU strategy 'in tatters' after Juncker defeat


David Cameron's strategy to renegotiate the UK's relationship with Europe "is in tatters" after his failed bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker from being nominated as Commission president, Ed Miliband has claimed.

The Labour leader said Mr Cameron's inability to build an alliance of EU leaders against the former Luxemburg premiere was an "utter humiliation", and bad for the UK.

Mr Cameron forced a vote of EU states on the selection of Mr Juncker, who is seen as a supporter of closer political union, at a recent summit, but lost it 26-2.

"His combination of threat, insults and disengagement turned out to be a masterclass in how to alienate your allies and lose the argument for Britain," Mr Miliband said.

Mr Cameron insisted it was right to stand up for the principle that the commission president is chosen by elected leaders of the EU Council rather than the EU Parliament, as he updated MPs on 30 June 2014.

He described the result as "a bad day for Europe" but said he would work with Mr Juncker to push for EU reform, although he accepted it had made the job harder.

Mr Juncker was the preferred candidate of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament.

His nomination will need to be formally endorsed in a vote by MEPs, to take place in mid-July in Strasbourg.

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said the Tories could have prevented Mr Juncker's nomination by the EPP if the party's MEPs had not left the centre-right group - but Mr Cameron dismissed his assertion as "complete nonsense".

The PM was widely supported by his backbench MPs, including eurosceptic and European Scrutiny Committee chair Sir Bill Cash, who said Mr Cameron was "completely right" to take the approach he did.

Labour backbencher Kate Hoey warned that any real attempt to radically reform the EU would meet a "brickwall of people who lead Europe...who want to see an ever-closer union and a federal structure", and called for a in/out referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU "as soon as possible".

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