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 1183.

    Let me clear up this issue, it has been CAUSED by the Westminster Establishment and with Scotland being an energy rich nation, the canny Scots, like many small nations feel confident of going it alone.
    Ahem, bit like Cameron.
    What's good for the goose.............

  • rate this

    Comment number 1182.

    Cameron clearly rattled Sarkozy, his body language & tone said a lot compared to Merkel.
    If these politicians claim they don't need Britain, why did they get so angry........obviously Sarkozy was hoping he could use British taxpayers to support his banks who at at significant risk from Euro Debt.
    As for Germany, they will be more than happy to continue huge export & import business with Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1181.

    People are arguing Democracy of Greece and Italy, What about UK, don't u think that the Bankers set the policy of the US and UK??Their is no democracy anywhere in the world, the ELITES rule the world as all the governments are dependent on them so just accept it and make best use of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1180.

    1111. PMB Coatbridge - I predict with 100 percent certainty that this Milliband will not be the leader come a GE.
    1093. frogspawner - What block vote is this then, has there been a change to the Treaty (requiring all 27)? There is the Veto,I believe we are one of only a handfull.
    1090. AndyS - We are all European but some are anti-EU. I am British/European but anti-EU, what is wrong with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1179.

    Protects the Government more like it certainly does not protect its citizens the financial sector is free to rip off it's customers whether that be internal forgery, mis-selling etc the government has done nothing to stop these illegal practices and will no doubt get worse now that we do not not have the protection of the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1178.

    Their iiresponsible loans are still causing enormous problems with bad debt. 'The City' could well be a white elephant, 2million employed, 10% GDP,...could destroy the Tory party

    If you call 2 million job which pay tax a White Elephant then i think you need to read again.

    Dont forget This was 80% caused by government debt, the bank just pushed them over the edge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1177.

    While not wishing any ill will to Europe wanting to tackle its problems, the sort of agreement that was reached at the summit does address the fundamental problem at the heart of the project. Neither would the treaty changes that were proposed. The problem Europe faces are its structural rigidities in a competitive economic landscape. No amount of finance can make Europe solvent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1176.

    1169. Ex Tory Voter JUST NOW "He will be getting advertising, that's how the BBC is funded outside the UK. Just the same as if you look at any overseas free-to-view broadcaster from here."

    His access to this website from his big beautiful house in Belgium is funded by UK tax and license fee payers, not advertising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1175.

    Comment number 8.Neil Richardson
    "I voted a long time ago for joining the EU, not the EEC."

    I doubt it. The referendum was about whether we should stay in and there wasn't an EU at the time.

    Maybe you should fact check before commenting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1174.

    Isn't it odd that every crisis in the EU results in a call for ever closer union when its completely clear that ever closer union is actually the cause of all of the problems.

    The bureaucrats in Brussels grab any opportunity to rob EU citizens of their democratic rights because they know whats best for the rest of us.

    Undemocratic institutions always ultimately fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1173.

    Remember when Cameron’s decision is proven to be even more wise than it appeared yesterday in the years to come that Miliband and his rabble of economic idiots would have sold us out to the French and Germans and then told us it was good for us! And THAT is why Labour have zero economic credibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1172.

    Amount per head of net contributors in € in 2009:
    Luxembourg 266.06
    Belgium 250.89
    Denmark 221.93
    Netherlands 150.02
    Finland 139.41
    Germany 115.32
    France 111.43
    Italy 102.49
    Ireland 84.45
    Austria 78.01
    United Kingdom 71.55
    Sweden 53.87
    Cyprus 50.74
    Malta 27.02


  • rate this

    Comment number 1171.

    So nobody posting here ever read THE ROTTEN HEART OF EUROPE by Bernard Connolly. Non-fiction written by a MEP Financial Minister , late 1980's. It explains the 'Sweetheart Agreement' between Germany and France: promise by Germany to bail out France whatever happens. Also a copy of document: the Fourth Reich, for when the time is right !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1170.

    To all who consider the UK is now isolated and that the accord of the 26 can lead to rules to our detriment I would suggest that the full range of EU legal remedies would remain at our disposal. It seems axiomatic that the 26 can't lawfully operate outside the EU Treaties simply by agreeing amongst themselves. Where is the flaw in my reasoning?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1169.

    Free access to the BBC too! Shame there wasn't a way for you to contribute to the BBC's upkeep considering your boasts of personal wealth. "

    He will be getting advertising, that's how the BBC is funded outside the UK. Just the same as if you look at any overseas free-to-view broadcaster from here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1168.

    It might help Britain's interest in the short term but with the anger it has generated within the EU I'm not certain that it will have long terme benefits

  • rate this

    Comment number 1167.


    "The Euro was never going to work without political union."

    No, the single currency was never going to work because we have different countries with different ecomonic musclepower under a single currency all trying to pull in the same direction. If each country had the same costs/economic level as each other, then it may have a chance, but that will never happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1166.

    I actually feel sorry for the Germans, we may feel a little aggrieved for being made scape goat; But the Germans didn't fair any better they didn't get the treaty they needed to safe guard their hard earned Euro's.
    The Germans know that without a big stick to beat the southern EU states into monetary probity there will be no reform.

    And none of this resolves the credit crisis of the EU banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1165.

    I'd sooner have Cameron & Osborne determine my budget & taxes than Kermit & Miss Piggy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1164.

    European bureaucratic responses have smacked of the worst kind of majoritarianism: suggestions that if Britain doesn't kowtow to the prevailing ambitions, then we've no place being a part of Europe at all.

    Contrary to the belief Cameron has brought home nothing, it's clear there exists a virulent anti-British sentiment at the heart of EU, impossible to mask, and for that Dave should be thanked


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