Cameron defies Europe: The press reaction

Last night's decision is likely to change the course of UK/EU history
Last night's decision is likely to change the course of UK/EU history

The media reacts to a seismic change in Britain's relationship with Europe.

Bagehot, The Economist

"Britain did not walk out of the EU last night. But let there be no doubt about it: we have started falling out.

"I fear I do not see where Mr Cameron used his veto.

"In my version of the English language, when one member of a club uses his veto, he stops the others from going ahead with what they were proposing. Mr Cameron did not stop France, Germany and the other 15 members of the euro zone from going ahead with what they are proposing. He asked for safeguards for financial services and—as had been well trailed in advance—France and Germany said no. That's not wielding a veto, that's called losing."


Nick Robinson, BBC

"For years people have talked about a British veto. For years it has existed as a threat never used. Not any more.

"The consequences could scarcely be greater for Europe and for Britain's relationship with Europe.

"This veto is not the end of something. It is the beginning of a story whose end is quite unpredictable."

Tim Montgomerie, Conservative Home

"Things may have worked out almost perfectly for Cameron. By keeping his demands so modest (and not asking for any repatriation) he forged a negotiating position that ensured Liberal Democrat support. By Europe (and I mean France in particular) then acting so intransigently all Tories will now rally to the PM's side.

"It's not often that uber-loyalist Louise Mensch MP and relentless critic Roger Helmer MEP agree but they did on Twitter this morning. Both acknowledged that the Prime Minister has done the right thing on Europe."

Rafael Behr, New Statesman

"Britain's problem is that the outer tier is tiny. The UK and Hungary, possibly Sweden and the Czech Republic. Legally they have a strong case to prevent the eurozone-plus group from building a new institutional architecture from existing EU bodies - the Commission, the Court, the Parliament etc.

"But in practice the inner core is big enough to form a majority in the Council - the assembly of heads of government where real EU decisions are made - to the near permanent exclusion of Britain. This is the "caucusing" effect that the Foreign Office has been worried about - a situation in which the eurozone gang arrives at summits with a pre-agreed position and presents it to the outer tier as fait accompli. When the reality of that new balance of power becomes clear, Hungary and the other nay-sayers might well decide their long-term interests are better served by eventually joining the inner circle, leaving the UK completely isolated."

James Forsyth, The Spectator

"David Cameron’s use of the veto in the early hours of this morning changes the British political landscape.

"In some ways, Cameron had no choice but to veto. Getting a new EU treaty through the Commons that didn’t even provide any safeguards for the City of London would have been hard pounding and would have tested the coalition’s majority.

"But Cameron’s bold decision to veto will come to define him as a leader. It is one of those moments that cuts through the usual fug of politics."

Patrick Wintour, Guardian

"Britain will have found a friend in Hungary, but the UK will have reversed 50 years of diplomatic effort to prevent a Franco-German-dominatedEurope, and will now be out of the room when key decisions are made on the single market.

"The City of London may also cheer that Cameron has protected its interests, but again the mood in the City will shift if the failure to reach a deal among the 27 EU members further strains the international banking system, prompts legal wrangles within the EU and ultimately leads to a European recession.

"The EU leaders will say that, at their time of need, Cameron turned away."

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