At Last: Cameron Faces Backlash Over Veto

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February 12, 2012 by Nash Riggins

In December, David Cameron made a legendary veto against a new European Union treaty, which helped to stall Europe’s economic recovery for, well,  no apparent reason. Yet it turns out that even Prime Ministers sometimes bite off more than they can chew.

Hardly a month after a defiant David Cameron vetoed the economic treaty – which 26 out of the 27 member-states had ratified – he has decided to return to the table with a far more docile stance. In an apparent 180°, the Coalition’s stance regarding the EU using government insitutions to regulate budgetary demands and policies has shifted drastically, from describing the treaty as a proverbial ‘financial armageddon,’ to a mere ‘reason for legal concerns.’ Why the sudden change of heart? It appears that Mr Cameron made his dramatic veto without the proper legal council.

After the fated EU summit, Cameron explained that his reasons for dismantling the treaty were primarily due to a lack of assurances regarding financial regulation, the most viable threat to Britain’s already crippled banking sector. This fear was real enough that he could have just stopped explaining himself then and there, and need not have ever worried about any backlash whatsoever; however, the Prime Minister being the Prime Minister, he instead took it upon himself to question which European countries should be able to use what government institutions, a series of muddled distinctions that Westminster has always tactfully avoided. Cue a justified backlash.

First of all, the UK would never have been obligated to follow the treaty’s proposed rules regarding fiscal policy even if it had been ratified – hindsight has proven this well explained and understandable. Yet this realisation brings about the most nagging question of all: then what was the point of killing the bill?

What was the point indeed. When Labour leader Ed Miliband posed this same question to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 31 January, the answer that followed was just as muddled and awkward as Cameron’s apparent stance on the Eurozone, and the series of attacks on the Prime Minister that followed were embarassing to say the least.

While the Labour party mocked Cameron for his seemingly pointless veto, Conservatives who had been praising their leader’s dramatic stance were forced to grill the PM on the specifics of his celebrated victory in December. As if that wasn’t enough embarrassment, the Euro-loving Liberal Democrats then proceeded to toss shameless praise at Cameron for relaxing his firm stance against the EU treaty.

A little criticism is nothing new to Mr Cameron, who will no doubt gracefully shrug it off as he attempts to clean up the mess he’s made in Brussels. Meanwhile, however, when he is soon forced to ask the British people for more of their money in order to throw at the International Monetary Fund in the hopes that the Eurozone makes a miraculous overnight financial recovery, he may walk away disappointed. As Britain’s deficit reaches an all-time high, Labour and Tory MPs alike are beginning to appear less-than thrilled at the idea of giving away any further funds to Europe, which may only perpetuate the continent’s financial woes.

Just as a conflicted David Cameron once pointed out: “When your neighbour’s house is on fire, your first impulse should be to help them to put out the flames – not least to stop the flames reaching your own house.” Only time will tell whether or not the Prime Minister will suffer from his veto folly in the polls; what can be agreed upon, however, is that perhaps the rest of the government may have finally begun to realise that standing in the way of Europe’s economic recovery is nothing to throw a parade over. In fact, it’s reason to fear that much more.


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