Business, Finance & Economics

British PM Cameron defends EU treaty veto in parliament


British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his keynote speech to delegates at the annual Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central on October 5, 2011 in Manchester, England.


Jeff J Mitchell

British Prime Minister David Cameron stood before Parliament on Monday and feverishly defended his decision to veto European Union treaty changes at the European Summit last week, The New York Times reported.

Cameron said he made the only reasonable choice to defend Britain’s national interest and said he couldn’t agree to the treaty changes because they would have threatened the competitive future of London’s financial services industry, The Times reported. He was the only leader among the 27 EU nations to reject the treaty.

“Britain remains a full member of the EU and the events of the last week do nothing to change that,” Cameron said, The Times reported. “Our membership of the EU is vital to our national interest. We are a trading nation and we need the single market for trade, investment and jobs.”

More on GlobalPost: Europe agrees to new fiscal union treaty – without UK

Lawmakers from the opposition Labor Party and from Cameron's coalition Liberal Democrat partners criticized Cameron in the House of Commons for “isolating the UK,” in his decision to reject a deal agreed by other EU nations to prevent a repeat of the euro zone crisis.

The changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, blocked by Cameron, were agreed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels last Friday.

Following the announcement, Cameron's Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, said Sunday that he was "bitterly disappointed" with the veto, adding that it risked marginalizing the UK within Europe.

He told the BBC:

"There's nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington ... I don't think that's good for jobs, in the City or elsewhere, I don't think it's good for growth or for families up and down the country."

Both Cameron and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, say the veto was carried out to protect European intervention in London's financial sector, but opposition parties argue that no additional safeguards were achieved, the BBC reported.

In order to proceed, EU treaty changes require the support of all 27 members states. Cameron's statement in front of the House of Commons is being live streamed by the BBC.