Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tonight bluntly stated that he "did not agree" with David Cameron's decision to "isolate" Britain in Europe.
The Liberal Democrat delivered his most direct criticism yet after opting to stay away while Mr Cameron explained to MPs why he vetoed treaty proposals.
In an interview, Mr Clegg insisted the public were not bothered whether he was at the Prime Minister's side in the Commons or not. And he said he would be focusing on "building bridges" after last week's summit meltdown.
"I don't think people care too much who sits where in the House of Commons," Mr Clegg said.
"I would have been a distraction if I was there... I have made my views clear about Britain's isolation at the summit last week."
He went on: "The Prime Minister and I clearly do not agree on the outcome of the summit last week.
"I have made it very clear that I think isolation in Europe, where we are one against 26, is potentially a bad thing for jobs, a bad thing for growth and a bad thing for the livelihoods of millions of people in this country."
Asked whether the alliance with the Tories would survive until 2015 despite the divisions over Europe, Mr Clegg replied: "The coalition government is here to stay. On Europe what I am going to do is this: build bridges, re-engage and make sure that Britain's voice is heard at the top table in Europe.
"Why? Not for the sake of the European Union as a whole. Because I think that is the right thing for jobs in this country and growth in this country and for the livelihoods of millions of families in this country."