Brussels is stifling City of London, Cameron claims

Prime Minister says banks are already under attack from 'badly formed regulations'

David Cameron signalled new European battles ahead as he pledged to resist alleged attempts by Brussels to shackle the City of London in red tape.

The Prime Minister echoed claims that the emergence of a two-tier Europe following the financial crisis could result in a wave of EU directives that would harm the Square Mile.

The Government has said it is determined to prevent the 17 members of the eurozone acting as a bloc to thwart the interests of the 10 EU states, including Britain, that have retained their own currencies.

Visiting the Commonwealth summit in Australia yesterday, Mr Cameron said the City was already under "constant attack" from "badly drafted, badly formed" regulations and stressed its defence was a key objective for ministers.

"All countries in Europe pursue their national interest," he said. "Would the French and the Germans like a larger share of financial services in Paris and Frankfurt? Of course they would. Well, I want to make sure we keep them in London. That's why we fight very, very hard for our national interest."

Among the directives that have alarmed ministers are proposed new rules for hedge funds and limits on the scope of the work undertaken by the largest accountancy firms. The eurozone members agreed in Brussels this week to press ahead with closer fiscal integration and to hold regular summits. Britain accepts the logic of the moves, but has also stressed that it will challenge any attempt by the group to act as a caucus to champion solely its members' interests.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, agreed yesterday that some of the planned EU proposals on City regulation affected Britain "disproportionately". He added: "We want to make sure there is a proper open level playing field for the City of London and for all British businesses in all sectors."

The prospect of new clashes over the City's future came as Mr Cameron condemned the excessive salary increases for senior executives.

The Prime Minister urged company boards to act "responsibly" following the disclosure that directors in Britain's biggest companies had seen the value of their pay packets leap by 49 per cent over the last year. He said: "This is a concerning report, particularly at a time when household budgets are very tight and people have difficult circumstances."

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said: "When people are struggling, when the middle is being squeezed, when people are seeing their living standards fall, it is not fair for those at the top to get runaway rewards not related to the wealth they have created."

But Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the advertising giant WPP, defended executives' remuneration – and insisted that his £1m base salary was "very low".

He added: "The base pay is then increased by a short-term incentive, which is an annual cash plan and a long-term incentive – a stock in the company in which I continue to invest."

Sir Martin told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that major companies operated in a global market and had to pay large sums to attract the most able staff.

"Look at what chief executives of media companies are paid in other parts of the world," he said.

"We are a worldwide company, we are the leading company in our industry, the comparison, whether you like it or not, is with other companies in the world."

Sir Martin Sorrell: The Tories' Pet Businessman

Sir Martin Sorrell may have enjoyed a spectacularly successful business career, but his claim that his £1m base salary was "very low" would not win him any prizes for diplomacy.

However, his comment is unlikely to harm his warm relationship with senior political figures – the entrepreneur is a member of David Cameron's business advisory board and has enjoyed the Prime Minister's hospitality at his Chequers country house.

The 66-year-old is also fully behind George Osborne's austerity measures – and has warned against excessive gloom over Britain's economic health.

Sir Martin built an estimated personal fortune of £148m – making him one of the wealthiest 500 people in Britain – from the most unlikely of origins.

In 1985, he took over WPP, a company making teapots and wire baskets for supermarkets, with a value of £1m. Today it is a global advertising and marketing group worth more than £10bn.

Sir Martin was appointed an Ambassador for British Business by the Blair government in 1997 and knighted three years later.

He moved WPP to Jersey for tax reasons three years ago. Today it is based in the Republic of Ireland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable