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Dublin: 20°C Tuesday 15 June 2021

Cameron to face Commons grilling after Clegg attacks EU veto

David Cameron will defend using his veto to the House of Commons – which his deputy prime minister said was “bad for Britain”.

David Cameron (left) and Nick Clegg are deeply divided over the PM's veto at last week's Brussels talks.
David Cameron (left) and Nick Clegg are deeply divided over the PM's veto at last week's Brussels talks.
Image: Matt Dunham/PA Wire

DAVID CAMERON is likely to face one of his toughest-ever outings in the House of Commons today, when he explains to MPs why he backed out of a deal agreed by the 26 other members of the EU last week.

Cameron was the only one of the 27 EU heads of government not to sign up to a new “fiscal compact” agreed by leaders in the early hours of Friday morning – a move which has divided opinion in the United Kingdom.

Though Cameron has face attacks from all sides over his effective veto, the harshest criticism has come from his own deputy – Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show yesterday morning, Clegg described Cameron’s block – an effective veto over the negotiation of a new EU treaty – as being “bad for Britain”.

The Guardian quotes Clegg as saying he was “bitterly disappointed” by the outcome, speaking of a “danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the European Union”.

Clegg added:

There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington.

The Lib Dem leader was keen to insist, however, that there was no risk of his party leaving the coalition – saying a collapsed government would be “even more damaging to us as a country”, and describing such an event as an “economic disaster”.

Senior members of Cameron’s own Conservative Party – including the justice secretary and former chancellor, Kenneth Clarke – and the heads of the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales have also bemoaned Friday’s events.

Sky News notes, however, that Cameron’s actions seem to have met with general public approval – with a poll published in The Times showing 57 per cent of people believing it was “right to exercise Britain’s veto”.

The BBC cited Downing Street sources in saying that Cameron would begin his address to the Commons today with a factual timeline of the decisions he took in Brussels.

Cameron will address the House of Commons at 3:30pm today.

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Gavan Reilly

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