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 1957.

    This deal will not solve the Euro debt crisis as will become apparant over
    the coming months, and it was wise to keep the UK out of it. The Euro
    problem is too much Debt & no Economic Growth and this pact will
    not resolve this.I think that as growth is slowly strangled by
    Germany's austerity approach, things in Euroland will gradually go from
    bad to worse . . . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 1956.

    Someone answer a question please? Where was Clegg?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1955.

    The Euro; a currency that is only as strong as its weakest link.

    The EU. An institution that has unelected commissioners wielding the power... the Parliament bit is...what do they do?

    Member States; if your big and matter. And can push the small States to do what you want. Small states just exist but have no say.

    The UK; skeptical of the merits of the above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1954.

    Please also consider that VW in Germany have been in and out of the courts for protecting their own interests for several years now (look on hte internet). Millions of euro spent from EU funds protecting French (CAP) and German interests, whilst others and UK abide by the rules blindly. What started as a great idea (common market) once again turns into a corrupt power crazed institution. Shame

  • rate this

    Comment number 1953.

    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"

    From discussions on a US forum, it seems that a fair number of Americans see the Euro as a threat to the US economy, and don't like it being beyond overt US control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1952.

    1929.cream wobbly

    I think what people mean is that he had no choice to get the best for the country - France and Germany categorically wouldn't budge, despite them rejecting the popular alternatives of stronger ECB/Eurobonds.

    The 'choice' if you want to call it that, for Cameron, was capitulate, or decline the proposals. By the sounds of Clegg and Miliband, they would have done the former.

  • Comment number 1951.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1950.

    The Euro will go it's own way and what Cameron has done is irrelevant. I think what he has done has done more damage than good for the UK. He might gain a short term boost in ratings? I would like to see him being more diplomatic with Europe and actually be more helpful. We trade so much with Europe we can't con ourseves that we can be standalone like Russia, Brazil or Mexico etc..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1949.


    Portugal are the U.K. oldest ally. However it seem they do buckle under as soon as the French click their fingers
    This time there is no Sharpe just the forlorn Hope !!
    That new little Corsican my think he playing a blinder.. But Angela is leading him up for a ( Dolschstoss )
    You mark my words..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1948.

    The political leaders of Europe should see if the public of their respective countries want closer fiscal union ( and all that that implies ) before they embark on it, especially since they've made such an expensive mess of the Euro!

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 1946.

    A PM with backbone what a load of rubbish, a 1yr old has more backbone than this useless PM terrified of his Eurosceptic Tories and of his banker mates and as for Clegg come on stop this ridiculous coalition all you are doing is keeping this useless govt in power for you own good, show some backbone Clegg. Europe is where we belong

  • rate this

    Comment number 1945.


    "...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..."

    Anti-American hogwash.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 1943.

    Anyone who thinks this marks UK isolationism in Europe should go out to a motorway bridge and count the number of EU lorries doing the delivery rounds. It's patently obvious that Europe needs our markets just as much as we need theirs. We also need each other to collaborate on defence matters. Fiscal union, for us at least, is a red herring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1942.

    Sure David Cam made the great decision. He's cool, he listened to his people...i can see well here.

    Oh dear oh dear

    You UK have been in the EU since 1973...And it took you such a loooooooooooooong time to realize how BAD the EU is. Unbelievable. Thought you are sooooo smart (at least as smart asthe Swiss :=))

    And you are still in the EU?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1941.


  • rate this

    Comment number 1940.

    Why is Cameron having to defend? It's what the majority want!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1939.

    Neil 1902 I agree with you 100% but not, I suspect, for the same reasons as you. The sooner we get rid of the LimpDregs the better and Clegg can scuttle off to Brussels and get a gravy train job there - which he might be best suited to rather than wasting valuable space in Westminster - not that he bothered to turn up today I'm told?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1938.

    Cameron seems to be defending his position very well. I'm impressed.


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