Lib Dems crow over Cameron's retreat on veto as Tories seethe

 

Liberal Democrats rubbed salt in the wounds of Conservative Eurosceptics yesterday by praising David Cameron’s retreat over the deal to impose budgetary discipline in the eurozone.

As the Prime Minister came under pressure from Tory Europhobes in the Commons,  senior Lib Dems praised his pragmatism after he allowed the 25 nations who have signed a “fiscal compact” to use EU bodies including the European Court of Justice and European Commission. In December, Mr Cameron had claimed this could be illegal after he vetoed a 27-strong new treaty. But on Monday he angered many Tory MPs by nodding through the compact.

Yesterday’s praise from the Lib Dems was in stark contrast to the Prime Minister’s frosty reception from them after the December summit.  Nick Clegg, furious about Britain’s isolation, refused to attend the Commons statement about it. Yesterday he was at Mr Cameron’s side after persuading him to “re-engage”  with Britain’s EU partners and to allow them to use  EU bodies after all.

Although the Deputy Prime Minister issued a “no crowing” edict to his party,  some Lib Dems could not hide their delight that Mr Cameron had backed down from his hardline stance. Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, welcomed the Prime Minister's actions at “a much more successful and satisfactory summit” than the previous one. In a sideswipe at Tory Eurosceptics, he said the EU should focus on jobs and growth, not “obsessing” about constitutional niceties.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader,  welcomed Mr Cameron's “pragmatism” at this week’s summit, saying he had “pursued a policy of re-engagement with our European partners”.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, told the Commons the veto had been exposed as a “phantom”. He said: “With this Prime Minister a veto is not just for life, it's for Christmas…It talks like a European treaty, it walks like a European treaty, it is a European treaty.”

Tory Eurosceptics challenged the Prime Minister over his retreat. Mark Reckless asked him pointedly: “Would you explain what it is that you vetoed?”

David Nuttall asked Mr Cameron: “Can you explain how the United Kingdom in practical terms will actually be able to prevent those countries which sign up to the fiscal union treaty from utilising the European Commission and European Court of Justice in such a way that would damage UK interests?”

Bernard Jenkin complained that  a “subset of [EU] member states can bypass a veto, hijack their institutions for their own purposes without the consent of a dissenting member state”.

Mr Cameron insisted it was in  Britain’s national interest to allow the fiscal compact to go ahead to bolster the euro.   He said: “This is a treaty outside the EU. We are not signing it. We are not ratifying it. We are not part of it. And it places no obligations on the United Kingdom. It does not have the force of EU law for us, nor does it have the force of law for the EU institutions, or the force of EU law for the countries that have signed it. And there will be no inner group of European countries distorting the Single Market from inside the EU Treaty. That is the fundamental protection we secured with our veto in December – and that protection remains.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent