Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom defended his veto of European treaty change in parliament on Monday where he insisted that his demands were “modest, reasonable and relevant” and that he was not trying to create “an unfair advantage for Britain.”
Other European countries rejected Cameron’s demand for exemption of Britain’s financial industry from regulatory reform, compelling them to push ahead with fiscal integration within the eurozone.
Although the other European countries that are outside of the currency area are expected to join the fiscal compact, Cameron argued that “Britain remains a full member of the EU and the events of the last week do nothing to change that.”
The prime minister stressed that Europe’s single market is a huge boon to the British economy. “We are a trading nation and we need the single market for trade, investment and jobs,” he said. More than half of British trade is conducted with continental European nations.
The Labour opposition was critical however. Ed Miliband feared that Cameron’s decision had condemned Britain to “the sidelines not just for one summit but for the years ahead.”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who leads the Liberal Democrats, Cameron’s junior coalition partners, expressed a similar concern when he told the BBC that Britain was “hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe and not being taken seriously in Washington.”