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 335.

    Our ONLY problem is that increasingly France and Germany see the EU as their 'club' and because we, unlike others, question the inadequacies of the EU system...they do not like our interference.
    The Euro crisis has dragged on and ON and now they want to side track LONDON as a financial hub.
    In many ways THIS is what typifies the EU.
    THEY want the power.... and our money, to squander.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    This summit is a further effort to allay the fears and doubts of banks and investors . Unfortunately for the EU it is not in any way going to affect the debt crisis . Planning fiscal unity which may take months or years to have any effect ; is going to have little influence on the financial markets , seeking immediate remedies that will prevent Greece , Italy , Ireland from defaulting now .

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    "I despise the Eurozone elite, they have created a disasterous one size fits all currency"

    I share your concern - every time I look at my accounts I wish currency policy was set purely to suit my part of the UK and not needing to consider all the different ecconomic conditions north, south and elsewhere!

    Damm those burocrats!

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    320. roaminoff
    I am afraid it is you who are being silly. My response to Pete was to ask how he thought he could implement UK law in Belgium. You (like him) have an arrogant perception that UK law trumps other nations sovereign law and that UK customs officers can do what they like overseas. A classic Little England attitude.

    Also from post 320 you and 'Pete' seem to one and the same. Pray tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    330.Lee - really mate, do I have to spell this out for you?

    Because you, as we all do, predominantly hang out with people who think just like you & mostly like the same stuff you do, hence why we get on with them so well.......& hence why talking to one's mates down the proverbial pub never gives any remotely representative view of what the wider public as a whole thinks......

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Why are all the people I talk to strong and decisive, all agree with each other over the rights and wrongs in both politics, law and justice. Yet those who we are forced to except to represent us who can certainly talk the talk but cannot walk the walk and are not fit to walk a mile in the shoes of the common Englishman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Comment number 323.Justforsighs

    Care to cite the examples when the local populace do not consent to the will of the master?

    Shall I begin...

    USSR, Yugoslavia... US Civil War... British Ireland...

    If the people don't want it, it results in?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Labour, the Conservatives, and the ConDems have all shown themselves utterly incapable of running Britain. How much worse can the guys in Brussels be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    There is not a right or wrong answer about whether Britain should be a member of the EU. There are benefits for being outside it and benefits for being in it. Britain needs to adapt to survive for either scenario. What it comes down to in the end is the level of independence the poeple of this country would like. That is the purpose of a referendum on treaty change and the broader question.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    I'm pro-European but must admit to being very worried with current events. The kind of reforms being proposed should be done carefully over a long period of time with sufficient political reform to make sure democratic accountability is maintained. Not something agreed by a few leaders and imposed overnight. It might be best to bite the bullet and accept that the Euro has failed . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    why are we sending a non elected backbencher whos days are numbered in a collapsing government.

    Get real the Euro is dead..the vultures are just writting their political epitaffs and excuses for not pulling this apart earlier.Its a slowmotion collapse so the costs of getting out is far less than going ahead and riding the complete collapse of Europe.

    Where is our referendum?

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Cameron will fold under pressure from the EU to do as he is told.... Our politicians (not just in the UK but right across the world) are protecting there own interests, and those of the banks and big business. This is all being done to placate the "markets", the people's voice will be ignored until they stop shouting and start breaking things..! Its a sad state of affairs in the 21st century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.


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

    This model, of giving up full local 'nationhood' to be part of a much bigger and better 'whole' has been proved sucessful over and over, take the USA for example; but closer to home consider whether it would be beneficial for England to subdivide into nation regions......

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Expect a Franco German favoured settlement whatever we say

    They will entrench Franco German control promoting their national interest & disadvantaging the UK whatever we do

    The prime aim of the EU for France has always been to promote their national interest

    It's time to have a fundemental review of our position in the EU because we could end up being dumped on & paying for the privilege

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    Interesting that the Tories position was that we couldn't have a transaction tax unilaterally, it is now suggested as a policy throughout the EU and the Tories position is we can't have a transaction tax NOT Unilaterally.

    Personally I don't want to protect Bankers bonuses in the city it's actually on my priority list just after pay rises for useless public school Tory politicians!

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Nemesis65"296. Pete

    "No you wouldn't and your answer beggars belief."

    Stop being silly and thinking you can tell me what I would or wouldnt do. Don`t judge me by your standards . Have a little look at EU law for yourself .
    What you do prove is that the left wing are cowering weasels who are not prepared to safeguard the interests of the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    273.ship-of-fools - I assume you'll be adding a liberal sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil to that lunch of yours?

    Can I come round & join in please - as long as I am allowed to bring my jar of [insert trade name of thick salty spread of choice] as any bread, not matter you eat it with, just isn't the same otherwise...??!

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    311. Try the mosquito approach.

    Your voice is currently one in 60 million (or 48 million say). You'd give it up for one in 700 million? How are YOU (common man) empowered by that?

    You missed our self determination and national sovereignty. If the EU makes policies which suit the mainland but damage us, pro-EU people should not complain. Democracy work best within small defined borders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    I'm far happier to have Cameron negotiating on our behalf than Ed Millibrain. Or Blair or Brown come to think of it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    The UK and Denmark are the only two EU members states with a firm opt-out from the Euro. Sweden has reserved it's position ,the other 7 non-Eurozone states are legally committed to joining in the future.
    So, there is a lot of political posturing going on here.
    The UK is seen as irrelevant, it's not in the Eurozone and it has it's opt-outs too.


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