Veto will cost UK influence

Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to veto a summit deal aimed at saving the euro is likely to leave Britain with less influence in the EU, according to an Embassy snap poll of EU Ambassadors.

The decision marks a turning point in the UK’s ‘semi-detached’ relationship with the EU said one Ambassador: “This time we are talking more than just monetary union, but economic and fiscal union,” he said.

Asked whether the move by the British Prime Minister signalled the beginning of a British withdrawal from Europe, Ambassadors expressed the hope that this would not be the outcome. One head of mission said the move did, however, leave Britain “more marginalised”.

Ambassadors dismissed as “not credible” the Prime Minister’s argument that he had acted in the national interest to protect the UK’s financial sector.

The decision for the remaining 26 EU nations to continue with a separate treaty in effect creates a ‘two-speed Europe’, an outcome which diplomats say privately was a failure of British diplomacy.

Speculation is that some of the fault for the debacle lies on the tough negotiating style of David Cameron’s European Adviser, Sir Jon Cunliffe, an ex Treasury official who is thought to have excluded Foreign Office specialists from the summit’s preparations, preferring instead to spring British demands at the last minute.

Sir Jon will be moving to Brussels in January as the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU where he will have his work cut out defending British interests from the sidelines.