PM: Coalition will emerge 'very strongly' from EU row


Cabinet meeting: 'A good business-like discussion'

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David Cameron has said the coalition government remains "very strong" despite recent tensions over Europe.

After chairing a cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the coalition existed for a "good reason" - to tackle the challenges facing the UK.

And Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told his MPs that although the UK needed to "build bridges" in Europe the coalition would last "full stop".

But Lib Dems later declined to support the government in a vote over Europe.

Lib Dem MPs abstained en masse on a motion put forward by the Democratic Unionist Party commending the prime minister's actions in opposing changes to EU treaties but the Commons still backed the government by 278 to 200.

Although largely symbolic, the vote was the first indication of Parliament's views since the outcome of Friday's summit.


Amid the continuing fallout over how the UK came to use its veto, Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne said the UK had been left isolated and "playing Billy no-mates is not fun and not effective in promoting Britain's interests".

However, Mr Cameron struck an upbeat tone after Tuesday's Cabinet meeting - the first since the EU summit.

"The coalition is very strong," the prime minister said. "The coalition came together for a good reason, which was to put aside party interest and to act in the national interest particularly while there are so many challenges facing our economy.

Start Quote

We talked about the issues of recent days, and I think the coalition will come out of this very strongly”

End Quote David Cameron

"We had a very good cabinet meeting this morning where we talked about those challenges, we talked about the issues of recent days, and I think the coalition will come out of this very strongly."

Leaving the meeting, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable said the atmosphere at cabinet had been "business-like".

And deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told a meeting of MPs later on Tuesday that "this government carries on until 2015, full stop".

Mr Clegg's absence from the Commons on Monday was one of the main talking points after the prime minister fielded questions from MPs about his reasons for using the UK's veto to block EU-wide treaty changes designed to facilitate closer union between eurozone members.

Afterwards Mr Clegg said he "would have been a distraction" if he was there but several Conservative MPs criticised his decision to stay away, one accusing him of "cowardice", while Labour said it was evidence that the government was irreparably divided over Europe.

But BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said sources suggested everyone who contributed at Tuesday's meeting spoke of the need for the coalition not to break up but for the Lib Dems also to pursue a policy of constructive engagement in Europe.

Commons debate

MPs debated the issue of Europe in the House of Commons and backed a motion by the Democratic Unionists commending Mr Cameron's use of the veto as a "vital means" of protecting the UK's interests by 278 votes to 200.

"It is time we realised in this House that focusing our foreign policy on the narrow ground of 'greater Europeanism' and ever closer political union in Europe is actually contrary to the UK's vital interests," Nigel Dodds, the party's leader in Westminster, said.

"For too long our vision as a country has been dominated by the 'little Europeanists' who only want to take us in one direction and it is high time this blinkered approach is discarded."

Recent events had "brought the day closer" when the public had to have their say on the UK's role in the EU in a referendum, Mr Dodds claimed.

Labour, who opposed the motion, said the prime minister had been driven by party political considerations and had not secured any additional safeguards for the City, but this was not chosen for debate.

Downing Street have rejected suggestions by the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that the UK's negotiating position on financial regulation represented a "risk to the integrity of the single market".

A No 10 spokesman said it was not the UK's intention to "undermine the single market in any way" and said it had been seeking equal, not preferential, status for the City of London in negotiations over financial regulation.

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, one of those to sign up to new rules on fiscal discipline and budgetary oversight, told the BBC he was not "angry" with the UK's refusal to do so, as each country had the right to pursue its own interests.

But he said the euro had been "beneficial" for his country and he believed eurozone members should have the right to use the resources of institutions such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to help them work closer together.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    72 years on. Not much has changed.
    Britain Stands alone in Europe.
    France has again rolled over and doing exactly what the germans want.
    Germans are rolling up country after country in their conquest of europe.
    And Britain with a Churchill at the helm stands up and says.
    "We shall fight them in Brussels
    We shall fight them in west minster
    We shall never give in"

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    392. Bill Walker
    Your fair share of the national debt, and no subsidy from England. Bang goes your free prescriptions and uni places.
    why should Scotland have any share of national debt when it was the Westminster government's love affair with the City of LONDON that created much of it? Doesn't work like that: England elected Thatcher, England should deal with the aftermath.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    This isnt an issue to cause a referendum on UK membership of the EU.

    The treaty was to manage the €'s future. Aspects were not in the UK's interest, & we aren’t even in the €. So we did what any other Country would have, & veto’d.

    It isn’t the first time we've disagreed with the EU, & it won’t be the last, but it doesn’t require a referendum every time we disagree with the EU!

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    Looks like Clegg has thrown his toys out of the pram. What faith should I have in Politicians who act like children, These are the people responsible for running our country..........God spare us

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    The Lib Dems are learning that it's easy to promise the moon on a stick when you have no real hope of power.

    The problem comes when you actually get power and have to actually start operating in the real world whilst trying to pacify the idealists your "promise everything to everyone" campaign attracted.

    This is why much of Labour said it was better to lose the election than deal with the mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    OK, so after the dust has settled what do we know now that we didn't know before the EU summit. Absolutely nothing has changed!

    The Liberal Democrats and the BBC are still pro-Europe.
    The Conservatives are still Euro-sceptic.
    The Labour party still haven't explained what their policy is on Europe.
    The Eurozone is still in crisis and the markets aren't convinced.

    Storm in a teacup.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Seems this is a fast moving story that is changing all the time. It would appear that many countries are now having second thoughts about what they agreed to last Friday and they don`t like it one little bit. It would appear David Cameron was the first one to see through it. Rather unfortunate others, aside from Germany and France, didn`t as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    Can anybody here tell me what these obscure powers are, which UK lost at the EU and so many want back?I read this in so many comments but nothing with facts.Is it only the little money which UK effectively pays?By my view from the outside i think your politicians react like any other politicians.It is easy to blame inner problems on to someone outside your political system.And many take this bone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Van Rumpy Pumpy:

    Dave, the deal is the French want to keep massive CAP subsidy to protect their peasant farmers. Germans don't want to give any additional powers to the ECB because they like benefitting from a depressed currency. PIIGS will have to lump it & cope with debts and unemployment
    Oh and we want the UK to pay for most of it through the Transaction Tax. That OK mate?

    Dave: $%*& off

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.


    So what did you expect, the facts? :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    EU to Britain.
    We want the French to keep the CAP"

    Actually the EU probably doesn't want that as the recent accession states don't benefit and it becomes untenable in WTO negotiations as it distorts trade. However, with a disengaged Britain, the CAP has most likley gained a reprieve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    David Cameron is right it is about time a stand was taken, the majority of the population want out of the EU, overall political and fiscal union is doomed our cultures languages are to diverse and the vast amounts of money poured into the EU by the UK alone could be used on our roads, railways, health, education etc etc, Go for it Dave the majority are with YOU secure your place in our history

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    @ 362.Kristal Tips

    the trouble is in the minds of their architects, the EZ and the EU are not two seperate things. The euro was another step on what the europeans see as the only possible destination: a federal EUSSR.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    @368 nemesis 65.
    With Wales having coal and Scotland having SOME oil, you will also have something else in the event of a split. Your fair share of the national debt, and no subsidy from England (send it over to Northern Ireland please England) Bang goes your free prescriptions and uni places. All poor England gets in return is a total lack of any future Labour government. Seems fair to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    171 & 275: It may well be that Mr. Cameron could win a majority if he called an election, but it's unlikely to be decided by European issues. It's generally not top of the agenda for people more worried about their jobs & having enough money to pay their bills. It'd be because the LibDem vote would be squeezed & Labour are currently not presenting a credible alternative with Ed Miliband in charge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    If you have a veto, use it, and it does nothing, it means you never had a veto in the first place. We thought we did, but the EU decided it only counts when they choose.

    They've shown their true colours, and we were clearly right not to trust them. Merkel rejected a stronger ECB/Eurobonds, yet we're the bad guy. But of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    I'm surprised (not in the BBC's case) that the press is not making more of Labour's pathetic stance yesterday. EM said absolutely nothing other than make fun of Clegg's absence. He has no policy on Europe other than criticise the coalition for whatever they do. He'd have "negotiated a better deal", really? The Germans were all for giving. What an idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    370. LB

    Actually there is another way a general election can be called. If a party or coalition loses its majority and cannot govern effectively, then the Queen can dissolve Parliament. Whatever, you think DC cannot continue if he doesn't enjoy the confidence of his monarch, Parliament or his people. The latter has gone, Parliament is next!

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    err 1400 years ago muppet lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    381. WiltshireTog

    366. Sixp "Greedy banker->Financial meltdown -> reduced Government tax revenue -> unsustainable deficits -> Sovereign Default -> EZ crisis."

    You forgot the greedy man on the street who wants to live beyond his means and was given money by the banker - he's the root cause.
    Lending regulations were eased to raise more profit and bonuses.
    The greedy lending to the stupid.


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