Cameron edging UK towards EU exit with negotiation strategy says Miliband
PM accused of giving ‘masterclass in how to alienate allies and lose argument for Britain’ with threats over Jean-Claude Juncker.
David Cameron is edging Britain towards the EU exit door after embarking on a negotiation strategy based on “threats, insults and disengagement”, Ed Miliband has said.
In rowdy commons scenes, which saw one former Tory minister liken the incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to a Luftwaffe fighter plane, the Labour leader accused the prime minister of burning alliances, leaving his EU strategy in tatters.
Emotions were running so high on the Tory benches as the prime minister reported back on last week’s EU summit that the commons speaker, John Bercow, was forced to intervene to ask the “baying mob” to allow Miliband to be heard.
The Labour leader said the prime minister had given a masterclass in how to alienate friends at the summit after he led an aggressive campaign to block the appointment of Juncker which was supported by just one other country – Hungary.
The Labour leader said: “His combination of threats, insults and disengagement turned out to be a masterclass in how to alienate your allies and lose the argument for Britain, including his threat to leave the EU if Mr Juncker were chosen. We all remember he went rowing in a boat with Chancellor Merkel and other centre right leaders in a Swedish lake in order to win support. But what did she say afterwards. She said threats are not part and parcel of the European spirit.”
Miliband said that the prime minister’s failure to build alliances showed how Cameron’s wider EU strategy is failing.Cameron aims to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017 after renegotiating the UK’s membership terms.
The Labour leader said: “Now he wants to negotiate a new treaty when he can’t say what he wants in it – all the time driven by a party whose centre of gravity is drifting towards exit. Doesn’t he accept that with Mr Juncker the strategy of threatening exit was put to the test and failed?
“This weekend has shown conclusively to everyone but this prime minister his renegotiation strategy is in tatters. We know where it would end. He will be caught in the gulf between his backbenchers who want to leave and what he can negotiate. The prime minister failed over Mr Juncker, he was outwitted, out- manoeuvred and out-voted. Instead of building our alliances in Europe he is burning them. He is a defeated prime minister who cannot deliver for Britain.”
Bercow was forced to intervene as Tory MPs interrupted Miliband. The speaker said: “The baying mob should calm itself” so the Labour leader could be heard.
The prime minister said that Miliband had given a performance worthy of the former Labour leader Lord Kinnock. Cameron said: “We have heard yet another performance worthy of Neil Kinnock. Endless words, endless wind, endless rhetoric, no questions, no grit and no ability to stand up for Britain. I won’t take lectures on negotiations from the people who gave away the veto, who gave away the rebate, who backed out on the budget every year and who even signed us up to euro bailouts. The fact is we didn’t have a veto in this situation because they signed the Lisbon treaty, they signed the Nice treaty – always opposed on this side of the house.”
There was strong support for Cameron even from his critics on the Tory benches. Stewart Jackson, a eurosceptic Tory MP, said: “I always knew he had lead in his pencil. But it is good to see him sharpening it on the inexorable drive to ever closer union as personified by Mr Juncker.”
Stephen O’Brien, a former Tory international development minister, likened Juncker to a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 aircraft. O’Brien said: “In a previous Battle of Britain we saw off Junkers.”
The former Luxembourg prime minister’s supporters were furious earlier this month when the Sun described him as a “Euro menace” because his family has a “link to Nazi regime”. His father was conscripted into the Wehrmacht during the second world war during a forced conscription process in which the Nazis executed 25 men who resisted.
Austin Mitchell, the Eurosceptic Labour MP, tweeted: “Yes folk!It’Junker day.Ein volk ein reich ein junk load.Love it or leave it.Gesundjunk.” This is a reference to the Nazi slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer – one People, one Nation, one Leader.
- The Guardian,