David Cameron would not hesitate to veto 'bad EU deal'

David Cameron Mr Cameron said he would "be looking out for the interests of UK plc"

David Cameron has said he would have "no hesitation" in vetoing a proposed new European Union treaty if it did not offer a "good deal" for the UK.

Ahead of a crucial summit meeting in Brussels, the prime minister said he had two aims: stability for the euro and protecting Britain's interests.

A 45-minute pre-summit meeting with the French president and the German chancellor broke up without agreement.

Some senior Conservatives say any big changes should go to a UK referendum.

Others want him to do more to reshape the UK's relationship with the EU by taking back specific powers.

Leaders of the EU's 27 member states are gathering to try to resolve the eurozone debt crisis. France and Germany will put forward plans for a new EU treaty enshrining stricter fiscal rules for the 17 member states that use the euro.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for much closer co-operation among eurozone members, including budgetary oversight, common corporation and financial transaction taxes.

'Very tough'

Mr Cameron has said he will exact "a price" for UK support for any treaty change requiring the support of all 27 EU members and wants safeguards on financial regulation and for the single market, in the event of closer fiscal integration in the eurozone.

Sources say the PM was "very tough" in setting out what he would demand in return for a new treaty, in his meeting on Thursday evening with the French and German leaders.

But there was "no movement", with each side setting out their respective positions.

Downing Street sources say "this is going to be difficult" and they don't expect any wider agreement amongst EU leaders until the early hours of Friday, if that.

Start Quote

If I can't get what I want I will have no hesitation in vetoing a treaty at 27”

End Quote David Cameron

The government has been critical of suggestions there should be an EU-wide financial transactions zone, which it says would damage the City of London.

"In return for the treaty that they want - to sort out the problems of the eurozone - I want to make sure we get a good deal for Britain, we keep our markets open and we have the power here in the UK to make sure that our top industries are properly promoted and enhanced," Mr Cameron said earlier.

Sources will not confirm whether or not he will ask for a de facto veto on future regulations.

The prime minister acknowledged the negotiations would not be easy. "Sometimes it is like playing chess against 26 different people, rather than just one person and I am not very good at chess anyway. But I will be doing my best for Britain and I hope if we get a good deal, that will be good for Britain."

But he warned: "If I can't get what I want, I will have no hesitation in vetoing a treaty at 27 because I am not going to go to Brussels and not stand up for our country. "

There is growing pressure on Mr Cameron from within his own party to go further. Senior backbencher David Davis - a Europe minister in John Major's government - said the PM should not accept any moves by eurozone members to form their own union or strike a deal without going through all 27 EU states.

He also said there would have to be a referendum if there was a "significant change in the balance of power in Europe".


The government says a UK referendum will not be necessary because the proposed changes would not involve a big shift in power from London to Brussels.

But two other senior Conservatives - Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Patterson and Mayor of London Boris Johnson - also suggested there might have to be a referendum, if a new eurozone bloc was created, or the UK was asked to sign up to a new EU treaty involving all 27 member states.

In a debate on Europe in Westminster Hall, Conservative MP Edward Leigh warned against greater fiscal unity in the eurozone and compared agreements reached at EU summits to the return of former Neville Chamberlain to the UK declaring "peace in our time", the year before World War II began.

Mr Leigh said: "We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years... that 'they will stand up for the British national interest' and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, 'I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests'."

Fellow backbencher Bernard Jenkin called for a referendum and said Mr Cameron should be using the opportunity to get powers back from Brussels: "Far from not being the time to renegotiate to bring powers back, this is the moment at which we will have most leverage," he said.

Mr Leigh was criticised by Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood, who said, by implication, that his words had compared the UK's European partners to the Nazis: "That kind of language in this debate has been deeply offensive... it is exactly the kind of xenophobic rhetoric that risks discrediting this country."

Conservative MPs told him his suggestion was "ridiculous".

'Back to the 90s'

Earlier Mr Cameron's predecessor as Conservative leader, Lord Howard, told the BBC while he wanted a "rebalancing" of the relationship, that was an issue for the future.

He said: "What is pressing at the moment is the need to help the eurozone overcome its crisis, because the world economy is in a very fragile state and a disorderly break-up of the eurozone could bring about an economic catastrophe on a global scale."

Former cabinet minister Lord Fowler told the BBC that Conservative eurosceptic rebels risked taking the party "back to the 1990s" when it was riven by splits on Europe.

But Education Secretary Michael Gove said the cabinet and the entire Conservative party were "united" behind the prime minister in his efforts to "win for Britain".

Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, whose party is more pro-European than their coalition partners, said the UK was not asking for "exceptional treatment" just for there to be a "level playing field" in Europe.

But for Labour, shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle said Conservative divisions on Europe had "exploded into the open", suggested the cabinet was "openly at war" and London mayor Mr Johnson was "madly stirring the pot" because he had his own leadership ambitions.

"The prime minister got a euro-mauling from his own backbenchers yesterday and the eurosceptics are out on manoeuvres," she said.

"A Tory grass-roots rebellion, a cabinet divided, a prime minister isolated. Can you tell us what's different from the last Tory government he served in?"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Pro-Europeans vastly exaggerate the difficulties of non-EU countries doing business with Europe. China manages to flood the economies of Europe with its exports without worrying about "having a say in Europe" or "a seat at the table" or being concerned that it might be in the "slow lane".

    If China can trade with Europe, while not being a part of it so can Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    David Cameron has a career and life changing decision to make.

    He can go down in history as the prime minister who led the UK to independence from the EU, kick starting the economy, removing the main need for UKIP, or he can go down in history as the man who ruined the UK by missing the once in a lifetime opportunity to right a series of wrongs.

    Which way will he go?

    Fame or failure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    If the British government and people had any guts they would forge their own way in the world without clinging on to Europe & the US. They could start by education, education, education (remember that) instead of turning out brain dead, workshy yobs. You are a sorry country in a sorry mess with sorry leaders. R.I.P.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    308. Nemesis65
    The "Lille loophole" was first raised in 2001 during a commons debate about the Channel Tunnel. Successive governments haven't bothered to sort it out during the past 10 years so it can't be very important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    "I believe democracy, national sovereignty and self determination are more important than threats that 'without us, you will be nothing and poor'"

    So do I, which is partly why I'm pro-Europe. The other reason is because I am a realist and I can see that Europe has more potential to be democratic etc than the UK. What is democracy if not representation of the majority?

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    The major countries of the Euro Zone have a superior lifestyle and a better work-life balance compared to that of the average Briton. This tells me something about Europe but a lot more about us. The "work to live" principle is more attractive than the US "live to work" ethos. When I lived & worked in France the work got done on time without missing lunch or neglecting family life. Why not the UK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    307. Kingstheman

    i'm saying had we had the wise to treat our neighbors as equals, we wouldn't have exploited the world to this extent leaving this feeling we're faced with now of a sort of "unspoken rape trauma" we're only now residing over in international affairs.

    what is so great about this empire you tote and what can we say it has done to help advance man-kind?

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    296. Pete

    No you wouldn't and your answer beggars belief. Your actions wouldn't make a blind bit of difference because if you were a customs officer in Belgium you would be arrested and left to rot in a cell by the UK government.

    I also notice you didn't answer my question about implementing UK law in Belgium.

    293. towerofbabble -yes and manufacturing used to contribute over 40% of GDP (1970s)

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    303... instead of the long-lived tradition of burying our heads in the sand and digging a hole as our imperialist fathers have for centuries.

    Er, if they had had that attitude, we would never have had an Empire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    I just hope things get sorted soon as people are feeling so unsure about what the future is going to be like.Just walking through my town people either look worried or stressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    And still the EZ refuse to listen to the Anglo-saxons at their peril. The British Eurosceptics are the only group with any credibility when it comes to EMU as they were the ones who accurately predicted precisely this whole mess 20 years ago.

    The EZ is bust. Germany is protecting her assets. Fundamental change is coming very soon. The Federalists have lost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    A referendum would be nice but I would not trust the public to be able to delve fully into the pro's and con's of such a move and fear most will go with the view of "I dont like being told what to do by Europe"

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    153. kaybraes

    let's leave europe >

    oh wait we're physically fixed here forever (give or take tectonic movement)

    maybe we better learn to be less expectant and self-important and get on with our neighbors instead of the long-lived tradition of burying our heads in the sand and digging a hole as our imperialist fathers have for centuries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Currently, if Britain has an agreement with say, Russia or Kazakhstan, the relationship is between us and them. 1 to 1.

    When the EU tries to negotiate with Russia or Kazakhstan, either wishes to be considered 'equal' partners to the whole EU.

    So, our club of 27 countries is considered equal to 1 other. From 1 to 1, to 1 to 27.

    Madness! We give up our nation to become a mere 'state'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Those who are shouting for a referendum save your wind! I doubt very much you will get one under Cameron. I feel there is no half measure here otherwise they would have given us one, say no more about the other options! Its either in or out.

    This is supposed to be a union yet Merky and Sarky are running the show and dictating. I doubt Cameron will stand up for us, he's just their messenger.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    When it all goes horribly wrong Cameron and the rest of his accolites will do what good UK Teabaggers do blame the workshy unemployed and the feckless poor etc etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    The Eurozone and EU project are in a mess, out of touch with reality and public opinion here and in many EU countries.

    Now is absolutely the time for a re-evaluation of the whole thing, and a return to the idea of a Europe of nations, not a European superstate. Sack the EU-crats, send the Poles home, and let's move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    282.Jason Mead
    "Engagement should be the strategy."

    Fine- we don't have to be in the EU to engage with it sensibly.

    "..some in the EU ..instinctively protectionist ..would put up barriers to our Services companies...etc."

    If they are 'instinctively protectionist', it's likely they act this way already (no matter what the EC says), so it's no odds whether we trade with them in or outside EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    It is manifestly obvious what we think about Europe already.

    Dave is scared stiff of a referendum telling him to get us out of there by 60/40.

    Democracy at work... ie Politicians always know best, hence why the Eurozone is in such a mess.

    Please have Paxman grill him on the subject.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    6 Minutes ago

    So you would happily take their place and do time in a Belgium jail for them? No - I didn't think so!

    You are an arrogant one aren`t you if you feel you can provide my answer for me, and quite wrong. Sometimes you have to chuck the rule book away , do whats right and face the music. I would do it .


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