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After Rejecting Euro Deal, Cameron Defends Decision Before Parliament

December 12, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, Europe’s new fiscal deal, minus one major player, with financial and political reverberations.

Today’s stock sell-off was widespread, and it came after markets had a weekend to ponder Friday’s agreement at the European Union crisis summit. Investors and traders turned thumbs down on a deal to stave off future debt crises. It would bolster the European bailout fund and force governments to submit budgets for central review.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was the only member of the 27-nation EU to reject the pact.

DAVID CAMERON, British prime minister: I went to Brussels with one objective: to protect Britain’s national interest. And that is what I did.

JEFFREY BROWN: Cameron took to the floor of the House of Commons today to defend his dissent. It was centered on sheltering Britain’s financial sector from increased EU regulation.

DAVID CAMERON: Those safeguards on the single market and on financial services were modest, reasonable and relevant. We were not trying to create an unfair advantage for Britain. I wish those safeguards had been accepted. But, frankly, I have to tell the House the choice was a treaty without proper safeguards or no treaty. And the right answer was no treaty. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do.

JEFFREY BROWN: Cameron won support from many Britons, including some in the financial industry based in the city of London, the British Wall Street.

But the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Ed Miliband, denounced Cameron.

ED MILIBAND, British Labor Party leader: The reality is this: He has given up our seat at the table. He has exposed, not protected, British business, and he has come back with a bad deal for Britain. The prime minister, Mr. Speaker, claimed to have wielded a veto.

But a veto, let me explain to him, is supposed to stop something happening. It’s not a veto when the thing you wanted to stop goes ahead without you.

Mr. Speaker, that’s called losing. That’s called being defeated. That’s…


ED MILIBAND: That’s called letting Britain down.

JEFFREY BROWN: Cameron’s Conservative Party governs with a coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats. Their leader, Nick Clegg, had applauded Cameron on Friday. But, by Sunday, he changed his stance.

NICK CLEGG, British deputy prime minister: Well, I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week’s summit, precisely because I think there is now a real danger that over time the United Kingdom will be isolated and marginalized within the European Union. I don’t think that is good for jobs in the city or elsewhere.

JEFFREY BROWN: Back in Brussels, a top EU Official, Olli Rehn, echoed the concerns expressed by Clegg and other European leaders.

OLLI REHN, European commissioner for economic affairs: We want a strong and constructive Britain in Europe, and we want Britain to be at the center of Europe, not on the sidelines.

JEFFREY BROWN: The subject also came up today in Washington, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Our concern hasn’t been over the position that the U.K. has taken. It’s whether the decisions made by other members of the eurozone countries within the EU will work.