British premier's "No" in Brussels draws criticism at home
Dec 12, 2011, 6:28 GMT
London - British Prime Minister David Cameron was under fire from several fronts on Monday for refusing to cooperate with other EU leaders on changing the EU treaty to tighten budgetary rules.
The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond slammed the prime minister in an open letter released Monday by the British news agency the Press Association.
The comments came after Nick Clegg, Cameron's deputy and the leader of the junior coalition partner Liberal Democrat party, spoke out against the move at the weekend.
Salmond accused Cameron of 'blundering into apparently changing the UK's entire relationship with the European Union,' without consulting either his coalition partners or the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, which would be affected by the premier's move.
Cameron on Friday refused to agree to changes to the EU treaty to tighten budgetary restrictions on EU member states, during a Brussels summit to thrash out measures to stabilize the eurozone debt crisis.
He said he would only cooperate in return for certain exemptions for Britain, in particular to safeguard its financial services industry.
His demands were refused by the other leaders in Brussels, who decided to go ahead with a network of bilateral agreements instead.
Clegg, whose party has traditionally been closer to the EU than Cameron's Conservatives, has until recently been tacitly supportive of the prime minister's stance in Brussels.
But he spoke out Sunday on a televised news show, saying Cameron's inflexibility was 'bad for Britain,' and Conservatives who welcomed the strong-minded move were 'spectacularly misguided.'
Refusing to cooperate in Brussels did not leave Britain 'standing tall in Europe,' but rather 'retreating further to the margins,' he warned.
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