x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Eurozone puts British PM under pressure

David Cameron faces criticism from own party and French president over issue of European Union.

LONDON // Within the space of 24 hours, the British prime minister has fallen out with both France and his own MPs over the ever-thorny issue of the European Union.

First came reports out of Brussels on Sunday evening that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, had told David Cameron that he was "sick" of the UK telling the rest of the EU what to do to save the euro when Britain was not even in the eurozone.

Then, almost 100 MPs from Mr Cameron's own Conservative Party defied their leader by demanding a national referendum yesterday on whether or not Britain should remain within the EU as a whole.

Although the government was expected to comfortably survive last night's vote in the House of Commons, the opposition was the most significant since Mr Cameron became prime minister 17 months ago, and pointed to the inevitability of problems being caused in the future by the sizeable rump of Euro sceptics in the Conservatives' ranks.

Mr Cameron was likely to be more bothered by this than his row with Mr Sarkozy, who had proposed at Sunday's summit that tomorrow's meeting in Brussels - at which leaders were to come up with a final solution to the Greek debt crisis - should only be attended by leaders from the 17 countries within the eurozone, and not the 10 other EU member nations outside it.

According to media reports, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Cameron: "We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do."

But Mr Cameron held his ground and insisted he would be at the summit - even though it has meant he has had to cancel visits to Japan and New Zealand - because he knows any bailout for the euro could have serious knock-on effects for the UK, particularly its financial sector.

 

dsapsted@thenational.ae