How Cameron traded influence for isolation

David Cameron is already reaping the results of his spectacular misjudgement at Thursday’s EU summit, reports Ben Fox with the latest from Brussels.

Living in the past: David Cameron has caved in to the 19th-centuryists in the Conservative party


David Cameron is already reaping the results of his spectacular misjudgement at Thursday’s EU summit. The Liberal Democrats are furious, while Conservative Eurosceptics will soon realise Cameron has isolated Britain without winning any safeguards for the City of London.

Left Foot Forward understands that Cameron’s team arrived at the summit with a draft protocol on financial policy. The problem was that, unlike President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel – who publicly agreed their position and circulated it to all governments – Cameron gave no warning of his demands.

For a legally binding protocol to have had any chance to be agreed, it would have to have been formally discussed before the summit.

Another oddity was that Cameron’s proposal involved shifting financial regulation from majority voting to unanimity. This would have involved unpicking the Single European Act agreed by Margaret Thatcher.

For example, if unanimity existed, legislation on bankers’ bonuses, capital requirements, hedge funds and speculative short selling would all have been blocked by Britain or other countries.

Cameron’s demand for a right of veto on all financial sector legislation was opposed by all other EU countries on the grounds it was nothing to do with the eurozone crisis (which was the purpose of the summit) and because, in any case, it was unjustifiable.

At it was, Cameron’s position was so extreme he found no allies. With no back-up strategy Cameron threatened to veto the deal. The other 26 countries called his bluff and then proceeded without him.

A month ago, the main priority of Cameron and his ministers was for was the eurozone to get its act together. Through arrogance and cack-handed negotiation it ended up trying – and failing – to block the eurozone from doing so.

The irony is that Cameron extremism and failure to negotiate has delivered the one thing he feared, namely that the eurozone 17 would become an integrated group that caucuses and predetermines subjects that properly belong to the EU-27. This fear was shared by many of the other nine countries not in the euro – yet, at the end of the day, it has driven almost all of them to join with the 17 leaving the UK in a minority of one.

But Cameron has actually done his party no good. Although dramatically wielding the veto guaranteed 24 hours of positive coverage from Eurosceptics, the reality is Cameron didn’t win any of the safeguards for the City that he promised. In fact, City institutions (including many Tory donors) will almost certainly pay a large price. The EU-26 will now press forward with proposals on corporate tax and a financial transactions tax with or without Britain.

Moreover, as Tory Eurosceptics realise they have less influence but are still bound by EU legislation, more and more will shift to more extreme parties like UKIP and the BNP. It is now almost inevitable separate structures will be set up for the 26 countries who either agreed the deal or are awaiting approval from their national parliament, with Britain on the outside.

That will be bad for Britain and for the EU, with a whole new panoply of bodies, some with their own separate presidents.

But Britain has suffered the worst of all worlds. On policies for the EU-27 our MEPs will have fewer allies and we will have less negotiating clout in the Council of Ministers. On economic policy, and anything the EU-26 want to talk about, we will be shut out completely. Cameron has achieved splendid isolation – with nothing in return. Nice work, Dave.

See also:

Look Left – Europe 26-1 Cameron: Britain isolated like never beforeShamik Das, December 9th 2011

The view from abroad: The day Britain locked itself outAlex Hern, December 9th 2011

Cameron didn’t sign EU deal because it’s not in the interests of the one per centShamik Das, December 9th 2011

Farage should check his own funds before accusing others of being in it for the moneyAlex Hern, October 24th 2011

Tory dependence on City money should come as no surpriseShamik Das, February 9th 2011

  • Pingback: Spir.Sotiropoulou()

  • Pingback: DrKMJ()

  • Pingback: Ellen Moran()

  • Pingback: Watching You()

  • Pingback: Michael()

  • Pingback: Juan Voet()

  • Pingback: Nell Epona Bridges()

  • Pingback: Pete Drummond()

  • Pingback: michael emonds()

  • Pingback: Tony Burke()

  • Anonymous

    Oh come on I agree with most of what you say but labour has this idea that some how the BNP will grow because of one thing or another Brown was scared that labour working class would change to the BNP as if we are racist, then again it was him that saw Bigots and non working British people joining the BNP, when the vote was counted both labour and the BNP lost a lot of voters.

    The BNP are dead will stay dead and will not rise, as for Cameron plans we will see.

  • Selohesra

    We all know Labour are as split on Europe as the Tories – but I think what has really annoyed Labour is that Cameron has taken this populist measure and they can see public opinion heamoridging away from them as they are being forced to oppose Cameron by taking ridiculous pro-EU positions>

  • Pingback: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland savage Cameron’s anti-EU strategy | Left Foot Forward()

  • Newsbot9

    Being soundly defeated is “populist”? Who knew!

  • Selohesra

    I tend to think of “populist” as something that is popular with public opinion – last servey I saw showed 55% thought he was right to stand up for UK interests by refusing further treaty and less than 18% thought he should have sold us out like previous PMs since Thatcher. Approx 3:1 in favour seems pretty populst to me

  • Pingback: Nic Prigg()

  • Pingback: David Irvine()

  • Pingback: Kelly Barclay()

  • Pingback: Trakgalvis()

  • Pingback: AltGovUK()

  • Pingback: Anne Greensmith()

  • Anonymous

    Basically, so what. A British right-winger is involved in a spat with European right wingers over the best way to screw ordinary people. Why are people allegedly on the left of british politics rushing headlong to support Merkel and Sarkozy? What have thery ever done for the people of Greece, Ireland, Spain or Italy? This is a pantomime to convince us all that political differences actually exist in Europe. So what if one free market corporate stooge is isolated from the other free market corporate stooges?

  • Pingback: Cameron sells out UK manufacturing for his loony backbenchers | Left Foot Forward()

  • Pingback: Stuart Brady()

  • Pingback: Jamie()

  • Pingback: Lea Renoux()

  • Pingback: D.()

  • Pingback: Robert CP()

  • Newsbot9

    That’s right, surveys. Which can only provide trends, not numbers.

    Where are the studies?

    Also, there are these things called “principles”, you probably haven’t heard of them, but…

  • Pingback: Look Left – Labour hold Feltham but deeper problems remain | Left Foot Forward()