Osborne says EU treaty veto helps protect UK interests


George Osborne: "We're not exiting the European Union"

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Chancellor George Osborne says David Cameron's decision to veto changes to the European Union treaty has "helped protect Britain's economic interests".

He said the country's financial services and manufacturers had been protected from "eurozone integration spilling over" to non-euro members.

Labour said the UK risked being left out of discussions affecting the country's future.

Senior Lib Dem Simon Hughes urged Eurosceptic Tories to "calm down".

The prime minister blocked changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty at an EU summit that ended in Brussels on Friday.

It now looks likely that all 26 other members of the European Union will agree to a new "accord" setting out tougher budget rules.

Intense scrutiny

Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mr Cameron made a tough decision that was "the right one for Britain".

"We have protected Britain's financial services, and manufacturing companies that need to be able to trade their businesses, their products, into Europe.

"We've protected all these industries from the development of eurozone integration spilling over and affecting the non-euro members of the European Union."


Just hours after he refused to sign up to the grand plan for a new Europe, David Cameron was back home, being toasted by Tory MPs at Chequers.

Andrew Rosindell, who was one of the 30 or so whom he invited for dinner at his official country home on Friday night, described the prime minister as "very relaxed, very happy and very confident". The event had been arranged last week, apparently.

It was a mixture of people in attendance. All Tory MPs, but not all of the Eurosceptic persuasion. Mr Rosindell, who earlier in the week had urged Mr Cameron to show some "bulldog spirit", described the event on his phone just as he was leaving. "We had a wonderful evening," he said, adding "the mood was extremely positive".

He refused to say if there had been any backslapping or cheering for the prime minister, or any jokes or jeers at the expense of the French president.

Mr Osborne said Mr Cameron's veto was not "some sort of secret negotiating position" and that he had done "exactly what he said he was going to do".

'New relationship'

Mr Cameron is facing intense scrutiny over his veto and there are calls from some Eurosceptic Tories to renegotiate the country's relationship with the EU.

Senior backbencher John Redwood claimed there was a "hard core of at least 45" rebel Tory MPs who would not back the coalition if asked to vote for "unsuitable EU measures" in the future.

"Now the UK is confirmed as being out of the room on euro matters... the UK government needs to turn its mind and energy to negotiating a new relationship with the EU," he wrote on his blog.

He said that the eurozone countries and the UK had "thoroughly different aims".

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes denied any rift between his party and the Conservatives, saying there was no possibility of a renegotiation with the EU during this parliament.

He said: "There is no such proposal, there won't be such a proposal, there won't be a negotiation of treaties. They should calm down.

"There will not be an opportunity for them to pull us further away from Europe. That's off the table."

He said he "regretted" that an agreement had not been reached that would allow all 27 EU countries "to be together on all issues", but he "accepted" Mr Cameron's judgement that the offer was not acceptable.

Michael Fallon, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said the UK did not want its tax and spending decisions to be made in Brussels and it wanted to stay out of decisions on the euro currency.

He said the UK would "still play a full part at all the major EU meetings that look at the internal market, and how the market works for business - that's important for British jobs".

'Floating into Atlantic'

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Heseltine earlier told the Today programme that the political situation meant it would have been impossible for Mr Cameron to have agreed to treaty changes.

"He didn't sign and he couldn't have signed because he hasn't got a parliamentary majority today to take us down that road," he said.

But the Conservative peer, one of his party's most pro-European figures, said Mr Cameron's move had not safeguarded the City, which was his stated priority.

"They (the Europeans) could theoretically create rules for the eurozone which would make it difficult to trade outside it in financial service activities and that's the fear," Lord Heseltine said.

"In saying that he wanted to protect the interests of the City he was agreeing that there were interests to protect, and there's no way you can protect those interests by floating off into the Atlantic."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the UK would now be excluded from key economic decisions, while UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the outcome was "the worst of all worlds" for the UK, leaving the country in Europe but without power.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    Infuriating the rest of the EU in the middle of this crisis by denying them recourse to European instututions is idiocy. Hopefully is is simply a negotiating stance and bridges will be built. If not we are all up the proverbial creek.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    942. Dancin Pagan The Mad Kiltie - That is a ridiculous viewpoint bordering on the dogmatic. The Scottish people are on the verge of voting for independence, does that make them haters of the English? Wanting to retain National Identity and keep the autonomy of our respective parliaments within Europe does not mean we have to accept EU membership. I am English first but still European.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    Can anyone provide proof that Germany are printing Deutschmarks? That myth has been circulating on the web for ages, but none has actually provided evidence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    Lib Dim interviewed on the news just now whinged the coalition agreement said things EU would stay as they are. Well actually he got exactly what he wanted! Things are exactly the same, we have not been suckered into a new treaty which would change things, for the worse. Lib Dims have not a thing to bleat about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.


    What's going on at EU Headquarters?

    Have you seen the cost of Brussels sprouts these days?

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.

    I'm in favour of Cameron's move. Also, Cameron had no choice because of the bulk of his party. One shouldn't however underestimate the resulting challenges: the City will certainly go to a Eurozone capital, like the EUz hqs of multinational manufacturers/traders, the big will favour the big: US, China, Russia all with the EUz. The UK has to focus on emerging markets, more global friendliness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    Flashman wanted to protect the financial sector? How will that be achieved outside the decision making process in the EU/26? All new legislation will favour Paris and Frankfurt. Not my opinion but that of the Bankers Assoc. & the City itself, who, after the initial hurrah, began to ponder the implications of DCs inept performance at the summit. He's a bit of a dork and he does like to prove it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    Surely no one believes that our European friends will stick to the deficit rules or that there will be consequences for those that don't. France and Germany both cheerfully broke the last set of rules in 2006 and nothing happened. If the French fancy running a large deficit, they will go ahead and do it. At least this way we won't end up paying for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    Why does anyone think Cameron won here? The rest will now go off and form rules that will kill our financial services industry anyway. The UK is powerless to stop it.

    The idea that the UK vetoing the deal or that ultimately the UK leaving the EU will protect our financial services industry is a naive joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    Democracy ? What democracy. Our half-German Billionaire Queen of England rules us ... and the MPs certainly don't give the slightest damn about you.

    Not to mention the corporate interests or the City of London banking cartel.

    What democracy ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    I full agree with the veto but now we need to deal with the fallout. We need to start forging links with Latin American countries and solidify links with Asia. Even if we are segregated by Europe we have the rest of the global community to deal with. Let them squabble in the closed doors EU we will go next door and it will provide more opportunity only if done quickly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    Being a member of the EU is like being a member of a New York gang.
    Once your in, leaving is on pain of death.
    (No disrespect to New York, but you get my drift)

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    I see that a lot of people are saying how brave DC was. Interesting - now that we have sold off our manufacturing, our energy suppliers, and most of our assets to Europe I just wonder who is going to be even braver and go back to Europe 'cap in hand'. Bankers beware. I think that it is check mate. Do you know how to play solitaire dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    Germany's currency will be some 20% higher if they left the Euro, meaning that everything they sell abroad would be 20% higher. This is 17 countries with individual needs and individual masters in terms of their voters trying to agree a solution that benefits everyone - no wonder it's not working! Germany has been "subsidised" in terms of its currency for years and it is in too deep to bail now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    He got badly beaten up by the French.
    He threw his toys out of the pram.

    Not Statesmanlike behaviour.

    You would have thought that he could come back with something!

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.


    These Tory back benchers "rubbing their hands with glee" at the euro demise. They are making a categorical mistake.

    I can't understand the EU hatred. Without it we are but island monkeys.

    He'll regret it!
    MoscowToykoSeoul - intended Irony?

  • Comment number 987.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    Dear God. I cannot believe the things I am seeing on here. The treaty would 'destroy democracy' and lead to a 'European superstate''. NO country in Europe can accept any legal or fiscal changes from Brussel's without it being voted through by their own parliament. Which is what has happened, regardless of govt, since the EU began. Ok? Heseltine is right Cameron did this for him, not you and me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    It is simply a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.

    Vote yes the Europhobes and the BNP and the right wing of the Tory party would have roundly condemned him.

    Vote no the Europhiles and the BBC and the loony left wing of the NuLabour would have roundly condemned him.

    Stay at home and do nothing everyone would have roundly condemned him.

    Some people are never happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    Hitched to a ‘Falling Star’?: Is it wise to link our fortunes to a region of the world with a poor record of economic growth and whose share of both world markets and GDP is destined to fall? Even the European Commission takes a gloomy view of the EU’s prospects.


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