EU veto: Cameron says he negotiated in 'good faith'

 

David Cameron: ''Satisfactory safeguards were not forthcoming and so I did not agree to the treaty''

Related Stories

David Cameron has said he "genuinely looked to reach an agreement" at the EU summit but vetoed treaty change because it was not in the national interest.

Mr Cameron told MPs he negotiated in "good faith" and his demands were "modest, reasonable and relevant".

The prime minister said he used the veto as he did not secure "sufficient safeguards" on financial regulation.

His pro-European Deputy PM Nick Clegg, decided not to take his usual place alongside the PM in the Commons.

Labour leader Ed Miliband questioned why Mr Clegg was not in the Commons, saying the PM could "not even persuade" his deputy of the merits of his actions.

'National interest'

The statement began with Labour MPs shouting "where's Clegg" - and later during the statement Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries accused the Lib Dem leader of "cowardice" while a succession of Labour MPs asked the PM if he knew where Mr Clegg was.

After the Commons statement Mr Clegg told reporters that everyone knew he and prime minister disagreed on the outcome of the summit: "I would have been a distraction if I was there."

He added: "Being isolated as one is potentially bad for jobs, bad for growth, bad for the livelihoods of millions of people in this country, but the coalition government is here to stay."

Nick Clegg: "Being isolated as one is potentially bad... but the coalition government is here to stay."

Giving an account of the decisions he took in Brussels in Friday, Mr Cameron insisted he had agreed his negotiating stance with his Lib Dem partners before the summit and the two parties had to "put aside differences" to work in the national interest.

During rowdy exchanges, Commons Speaker John Bercow has had to intervene on several occasions to restore order.

Explaining his decision to veto the treaty, Mr Cameron said it was "not an easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do".

He said he was faced with the "choice of a treaty without proper safeguards or no treaty and the right answer was no treaty".

He dismissed claims that he had demanded "an opt-out" for the City from EU directives on finance, seeking only proper regulations and a "level playing field" for British business in Europe.

"I went to Brussels with one objective - to protect Britain's national interest. And that is what I did."

He argued: "I do not believe there is a binary choice for Britain that we can either sacrifice the national interest on issue after issue or lose our influence at the heart of Europe's negotiating process.

"I am absolutely clear that it is possible to be a both a full, committed and influential member of the EU but to stay out of arrangements where they do not protect our interests."

'Bad deal'

But Ed Miliband said the PM had gained nothing from the negotiations, saying "it is not a veto when something goes ahead without you, that's called losing".

"He has come back with a bad deal for Britain," he told MPs. "Far from protecting our interests, he has left us without a voice."

Suggesting the outcome was a "diplomatic disaster" for the UK, Mr Miliband said the prime minister "did not want a deal as he could not deliver it through his party".

Mr Cameron repeatedly pressed his Labour counterpart on whether he would have signed the Treaty.

Ed Miliband said the prime minister ''could not persuade his own deputy'' that not signing the treaty was a good outcome

Although the Labour leader to did not directly reply, the BBC's Nick Robinson said Mr Miliband's aides later made it clear he would not have signed it as it stood - but would have stayed in the room and secured a better outcome.

Mr Cameron's efforts were applauded by a succession of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, one - John Redwood - saying he had shown "excellent statesmanship".

"Britain today has much more negotiating strength because they know they are dealing with a prime minister who will say no if he needs to," he said.

But Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood said international investors now needed reassurance that the UK remained "at the heart" of European decision-making while his colleague Jo Swinson accused the PM of "rushing for the exit" rather than trying to secure a consensus.

Plaid Cymru's leader in Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd, accused the PM of putting the interests of the City ahead of the national interest while the SNP's Stewart Hosie said Mr Cameron had not consulted with devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before using his veto.

The treaty changes needed the support of all 27 EU members, including those not in the euro, such as the UK, to go ahead. It now looks likely that all 26 other members of the European Union will agree to a new "accord" setting out tougher budget rules aimed at preventing a repeat of the current eurozone crisis.

The new accord will hold eurozone members to strict budgetary rules including:

  • a cap of 0.5% of GDP on countries' annual structural deficits
  • "automatic consequences" for countries whose public deficit exceeds 3% of GDP
  • a requirement to submit their national budgets to the European Commission, which will have the power to request that they be revised

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has suggested Friday's outcome signalled "there are now clearly two Europes".

However the deal still has to be agreed by a number of national parliaments, and the reaction of the financial markets suggests it has failed to bring a swift end to the euro crisis.

The BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague said: "Commentators here have taken a more cautious - and arguably more accurate - view, reflecting the fact that the Czechs haven't signed up to anything yet."

The current French presidential front-runner, Socialist Francois Hollande, said on Monday that if he was elected next May he would renegotiate the accord, saying: "This accord is not the right answer."

One of Chancellor Merkel's close aides in the German parliament told the BBC's Stephen Evans he does not see why "Britain should stay isolated".

CDU Chief Whip Peter Altmaier said: "Over the last years there has been very intensive cooperation between the UK and Germany and I'm deeply convinced that this will continue. It will last. We have so much in common and there are so few issues that divide us."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +47

    Comment number 1947.

    Cameron has taken the right decision. The fact that Nick Clegg doesn't appear to back the PM shouldn't concern anyone. Clegg's own admission at this year's Lib Dem conference that he made the wrong call in backing us to join the euro only reinforces the idea that Nick Clegg's views should be treated with extreme caution. Probably best he wasn't sitting alongside Cameron in parliament today.

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 1944.

    Contrary to the vile ad-hominem aimed at Nick Clegg, I believe he should be commended for swallowing his pride and leading his party into doing whats right for the UK.

  • rate this
    -95

    Comment number 1721.

    ''The Euro will collapse.The Euro has collapsed''...Gosh I have been hearing about this imminent collapse ever since I was 15yo and now I am 25! Cameron has made the wrong decision.We are now isolated,marginalized and the bad guys! It is in our best interest to want a stronger central governance of the EU institutions that would help us be a part of truly strong and all mighty union.

  • rate this
    +88

    Comment number 1709.

    Good to see the British prime minister using a bit of backbone,
    Unlike some european ministers who promise a referendum then crumble before the eurocrats.
    The United Kingdom needs it's Independance from this fiscal farce.

  • rate this
    +125

    Comment number 1572.

    Cameron was right to veto the Eurozone Treaty. What was being voted for goes well beyond the purposes of a single 'trading' market. We're in the EU to aid & promote better trading relationships with other European countries and movement across borders. We're not in the EU for the purposes of having the sovereign right to control our own economic and budgetary policies undermined and dictated to us

 

Comments 5 of 18

 

More Politics stories

RSS

Features

  • Lucy FranklinDouble trouble

    'Rising house prices left me high and dry - twice!'


  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world


  • Ed Miliband takes a selfie at a Cambridge hairdressersNo more photo ops?

    Why is Ed Miliband drawing attention to his public image?


  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Glasgow 2014 quaichs and medalsQuaich guide

    What do the Scottish gifts given to Games medallists symbolise?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.