A balancing act

SINCE coming from nowhere to land the Tory party leadership in 2005, David Cameron has neutered the issue of Europe because of the importance of this country's trade links. Yesterday, he was forced to confront the subject head on as the Eurozone financial crisis escalates.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon used a meeting with the Prime Minister to try to enlist his support for further harmonisation of "economic, fiscal and social policies".

Not surprisingly, this call for help was met with disdain from many Eurosceptic Tory MPs, but Mr Fillon warned that Britain would suffer "catastrophe and a disaster" if the European single currency failed.

A slender olive branch was offered – Mr Cameron said Britain would be a "helpful partner", but no more.

Many will applaud this strong stance, but it risks reigniting the battle within the Prime Minister's own party and igniting a new dispute with his coalition partners.

Mr Cameron is right not to 'flip flop' around the issue, it would only show him to be weak. Equally, he must not allow strength to be seen as confrontation; it would put the coalition at risk and jeopardise vital trade links.