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Britain will retain influence: PM

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that Britain will maintain influence in the European Union after his decision to veto a new treaty designed to stabilise the single currency.

Mr Cameron was facing isolation in Europe as all 26 of the other EU member states agreed to go ahead with a separate accord on a "fiscal compact" for the euro.

Mr Cameron's deployment of the veto after 10 hours of fraught negotiation in Brussels was hailed by jubilant Tory eurosceptics, some of whom made clear that they regard it as the first step towards a looser relationship with the EU, or even outright withdrawal.

However, he was lambasted by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who said Mr Cameron had "spectacularly" mishandled the negotiations.

Mr Cameron said that he believes membership of the 27-nation bloc is still good for the UK, telling reporters at the European Council summit in Brussels: "The membership is in our interests and I've always said if that's the case I'll support our membership. Membership of the European Union is good for us."

He dismissed suggestions that the UK would be isolated, as the other 26 nations conduct discussions without a British representative at the table, saying: "Britain's influence in the EU will be maintained.

"Europe has many rooms. I think Britain should feel the Europe we want has got the flexibility of a network.

"You've got to form alliances in Europe for the things you want to get done. I don't think anything that happened last night will change that, in fact it was relatively, there was obviously fundamental disagreement - a situation where Britain had to say it couldn't go ahead with this treaty - but it was done in a very good natured way."

Mr Cameron said it would take "some time" for the other 26 states to implement their inter-governmental treaty.

And, in a sign of possible future conflict on the prickly issue of whether the European Commission facilities can be used to support the new agreement, he insisted that Britain would "make sure that the role of the institutions is properly respected".


From Belfast Telegraph