Miliband: “With this PM, a veto’s not for life, it’s just for Christmas”

Alex Hern runs through Cameron's U-turn on Europe


Just over a month after David Cameron’s not-quite-a-veto on the EU, and the government is having to backtrack even on the weak claims they made at the time.

Speaking in December, George Osborne said of Cameron’s actions:

He did it because it was the right decision for our country. It has helped to protect Britain’s economic interests.

The integration of the eurozone, which we think is necessary to make the single currency work, is not taking place within the full panoply of the European treaties, with the full deployment of the European institutions enforcing those treaties.

And because we were unable to get British safeguards that might have allowed that to happen, we’re not allowing it to happen.

Whereas today, the Telegraph reports:

Mr Cameron did not try to push his case against using institutions.

But he warned: “We will only take action if our national interests are threatened – and I made clear today that we will be watching this closely.”…

“On the institutions…..the key point here for me is what is in our national interest, which is for them to get on and sort out the mess that is the euro. That’s in our national interest.

As well as moving from “we’re not allowing it to happen” to “we’re allowing it to happen, but watching really closely”, the PM has also been furiously spinning about his ‘veto’.

As Bagehot commented at the time:

In my version of the English language, when one member of a club uses his veto, he blocks something from happening.

Mr Cameron did not stop France, Germany and the other 15 members of the euro zone from going ahead with what they are proposing. He asked for safeguards for financial services and – as had been well trailed in advance – France and Germany said no.

That’s not wielding a veto, that’s called losing.

Cameron’s response seems to be that the fact that the same countries are agreeing to the same thing in January rather than December means that he stopped it:

They (the other member states) have today agreed on a new treaty focused on tighter fiscal discipline which we agree is essential.

Now this is a totally separate treaty – because we vetoed an EU treaty in December. We’re not signing this treaty. We’re not ratifying it. And it places no obligations on the UK.

As Jack Straw pointed out today, when every single article bar one refers to the EU organisation, the new document is effectively an EU treaty. Which means Cameron’s great success was delaying it 50 days.

As Ed Miliband said today:

“With this prime minister, is veto is not for life, it’s just for Christmas.”

See also:

• Alexander: All Cameron’s “phantom veto” did was undermine British influenceShamik Das, January 31st 2012

• Public support for Cameron’s EU walkout already unravelling – Will Straw, December 13th 2011

• What exactly did Cameron get from the EU summit? – Shamik Das, December 13th 2011

• Cameron turns Britain from an outlier into an irrelevance – James Denselow, December 12th 2011

• Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland savage Cameron’s anti-EU strategy – Ed Jacobs, December 12th 2011

• How Cameron traded influence for isolation – Ben Fox, December 12th 2011

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

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