Belfast Telegraph

A not so splendid isolation for Cameron

Whatever the immediate implications of the Brussels summit, this is an historic moment of great significance in the development of Europe.

It is too early to say whether the new deal will save the euro and develop a more cohesive European financial structure, or whether this will prove to be too little too late, and lead to the possible unravelling of the entire fabric of the European Union.

The next few weeks and months will be crucial to the working out of such complex schemes. However, Prime Minister David Cameron took a momentous decision by using Britain's veto and walking away from the negotiations, thus moving the country towards the economic periphery of European affairs.

This has been a lonely time for Cameron who was virtually in a no-win position in Brussels this week. In possibly his worst hour since he became Prime Minister, he was hedged in by his right-wing Conservative euro-sceptics.

On the other hand he was desperately keen to protect Britain's lucrative financial sector from yet further European regulation. In the end the new European initiative proved a step too far, and the fall-out from such a decision will take some time to evaluate properly.

Mr Cameron has sent out a clear message that this country is effectively detached from the European economy. Major decisions will be made without us, and that will be bad for UK business, particularly in Northern Ireland where we must develop a more export-dominated mix for our economy.

One of the defining factors of a Prime Minister's career is his or her ability to make major decisions which will have the utmost implications, either way, for the future of the country. David Cameron showed he has the courage to meet such a challenge.

However, only time will prove whether he was right or wrong. The same applies to the other European leaders as they try to move forward more closely along the perilous financial path which faces all of us.

They too will face a day of reckoning, while the future of the EU remains in the balance.

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