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''

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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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1937.

    I feel that DC's decision not to be part of the solution within the Eurozone is a bad one, if only because it in many ways renders Brtiain irrelevant in future decision making. However I find the level of vitriol and misunderstanding leveled at the EU to be frightening. The EU is an intergoverrnmental commission, not a federal government. So it is the creature of the governments that you elect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1936.

    I am a Labour supporter, through and through. But I give Cameron credit, he stood up for what HE believes in, I think he made the right choice, only time will tell. But he has gone up in my estimation. WELL DONE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1935.


    Yes,I see how we are Switzerland....Our numbers are the same you see, our debt is not among the highest national debts in Europe and London is indeed Zurich...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1934.

    Cameron "genuinely looked to reach and agreement". Don't insult our intelligence, please. After all the unpleasant anti-European tub thumping in the week leading up to the summit, there was no possibility of an agreement. Cameron boxed himself in with his own rhetoric. Why not just be honest, and say that you did it because you were scared of a right-wing backbench rebellion, nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1933.

    Well done, Prime minister! Saving sovereignty for Britain from German-French Euro dizziness. There will be a time in the near future when people on the continent of Europe, will again look upon Britain as a last beacon of hope for a democratic and more human future as it was in many dark periods of the past from the Spanish Armada, on to Napoleon and then to Hitler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1932.

    As far as I'm concerned DC annoyed the rest of Europe over something than doesn't affect the UK, for something he didn't and couldn't get. All to appease his backbenchers. Life is neither ruined or better.

    Life is probably harder and it did seem to come across as petty. It was probably more likely that DC overplayed his hand, misjudging the mood. The city doesn't even want his protection!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1931.

    Miliband accuses Cameron of 'pandering' to his MPs. Actually it is Miliband who is pandering to his own pro-Euro, anti-democratic back-benchers by treasonously supporting yet more power to Brussels.

    The People of the UK are pleased that Cameron has stood up to Germany and France, not caved in as Labour always has.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1930.

    1904. sxgree

    And we can award contract to build trains to Bombadier instead of Siemens.
    we can indeed (and arguably should be). But they are bigger than us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1929.

    It's quite telling that, after slapping him on his backbone, many of Cameron's supporters are adding he had no choice.

    Conclusion: he wasn't an influential statesman then. He couldn't shift the argument in Britain's favour. In other words, he doesn't, in fact, have a backbone at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1928.

    To all those complaining that this decision puts us "outside of the EU" and that anyone who agrees with the PM is "right-wing" and "anti-Europe", please be reminded that we are staying within our free trade, open market arrangement with Europe, just opting out of further financial integration. We still have our free trade access to the biggest single market in the world and yet keep our control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1927.

    Where's Calamity Clegg? What a deceitful shower this government is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1926.

    1883. Yet France benefits greatly from the CAP. Germany refused to have the ECB made into a lender of last resort. Both use their veto to protect their interests.

    ...and we cannot say 'no' to something that would harm us to the benefit of them? Get real!

    To RR of Portugal, your lot are part of the problem. Running up irresponsible debts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1925.

    The Prime Minister has put the Great back in Britain and showed that we do not need to follow where there is no detailed plan. Now the UK stands with Switzerland almost. The PM has placed UK in a better place to be, rather than following the whirlpool of potential Euro downward direction. The Summit did not have a plan, only a wish list to which they wanted the UK to contribute. UK has a strong PM

  • rate this

    Comment number 1924.

    The issue is about tighter financial control, are we against that? Do we trust our leaders to do the right thing and only spend money that they can afford to pay back? Printing money is what the Merkel is against and I’m against it as well - it is actually a tax on fiscally sound people who have saved money, to pay for irresponsible government spending! Who here supports that option, DC perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1923.

    Add your comment..David Cameron was quite right to reject this treaty; What is the betting that the 26 will not all sign and half will have second thoughts; Euro crisis won't be solved this way and thank goodness for the PM's common sense. Why should we sign up to a treaty that has been contrived to keep Germany and France as the dominating power in Europe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1922.

    "None of the organisations .... you mention threaten our sovereignty. The EU does."

    The USA doesn't threaten our sovereignty? Rubbish. UK PMs jump whenever a US president tells them to

    IF we are cut off from the single market - which is likely now - the US will drop us like a hot brick and find some other mug to use as a financial aircraft carrier to attack their Euro rivals - Dublin probably

  • rate this

    Comment number 1921.

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

    BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson said he had been told Mr Clegg - who said on Sunday the result "was bad for Britain" - had decided that his presence in the Chamber would be a distraction.

    If in doubt; Run away!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1920.

    Cameron has made a decision which is supported by most of the British people. However ‘most of the British people’ are English and not everyone in these islands has the same outlook on Europed. The veto has undoubtedly affected the UK’s relationship with Europe but it may also prove to be a further catalyst for change within the United Kingdom itself...time will tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1919.

    Comment number 1875. deanarabin
    4 Minutes ago

    A single party can only claim that it reflects the people's will if it has enough support in the House of Commons to implement all its policies without looking to other parties.

    That, in the multi party system that we have, will never happen not. That sort of thing only ever happens in a Dictatordhip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1918.

    What has gone unnoticed is that public opinion in Germany and France is that they don't want to be part of Europe. The people of these countries are sick to death of bailing out irresponsible countries. They must wish their premier was stronger!


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