The UK emerged from last week’s Brussels summit with a “bad deal”, says Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who fears Britain will now become “isolated and marginalised” within the EU.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted today he was “bitterly disappointed” by the outcome of last week’s European Council, when David Cameron wielded Britain’s veto.
He warned that Britain could be left “isolated and marginalised” in the wake of the summit.
“I’m bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week’s summit, precisely because I think now there is a danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the European Union,” Mr Clegg told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.
“I don’t think that’s good for jobs, in the City or elsewhere. I don’t think it’s good for growth or for families up and down the country.”
He said he would now be doing “everything I can to ensure this setback does not become a permanent divide”.
Mr Clegg spoke by telephone to the prime minister at 4am on Friday, as talks ended in Brussels.
The Lib Dem leader said: “I said this was bad for Britain. I made it clear that it was untenable for me to welcome it.”
Now there is a danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the EU. Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister
He said Tories welcoming the outcome of the summit were “spectacularly misguided”.
At prime minister’s questions last Wednesday, Conservative backbenchers urged David Cameron to show “bulldog spirit” in Brussels.
But Mr Clegg said today: “There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington.”
He warned the UK was “retreating further to the margins of Europe”.
Read more: Will UK be left out in the cold?
Earlier, in today’s Independent on Sunday, a source close to Mr Clegg said there had been “a spectacular failure to deliver in the country’s interest” at the Brussels summit.
“Nick certainly doesn’t think this is a good deal for Britain, for British jobs or British growth,” the source said.
“It leaves us isolated in Europe and that is not in our national interest. Nick’s fear is that we become the lonely man of Europe.”
The source said Mr Clegg “couldn’t believe it” when, on Friday morning, he was informed of the course of events and how Mr Cameron had sought to negotiate with fellow EU leaders.
Speaking on BBC Radio Nottingham, Conservative Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, a pro-European, described the outcome of the summit as “disappointing”.
“There will be a big statement made by the prime minister on Monday, where I shall be sitting listening, and I shall be discussing what we are going to do now,” Mr Clarke said.
Our requests were moderate, reasonable and relevant. William Hague, foreign secretary
“Our requests were moderate, reasonable and relevant, given the potential spill-over from fiscal to financial integration,” wrote Mr Hague.
“We did not go to Brussels seeking a row. We went in search of agreement. It is a matter of regret that no agreement that was acceptable to all 27 EU countries could be reached.
“But it is better to have no change to the EU treaties than a change that did not protect our interests.”