One of Yorkshire’s MPs has said there is little point in Britain remaining in the European Union following David Cameron’s landmark veto of a new treaty.
Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham and former Europe Minister, said the failure of Mr Cameron to strike a deal was “unbelievable” and raised serious questions about the ability of Britain to influence European matters in the future. He told the Yorkshire Post: “Mrs Thatcher in her time was robust. She got the rebate, put through the Single European Act and rejected calls at home for a referendum. She had her rows but was able to negotiate.
“The word ‘isolation’ is now flashing across the world and I wonder what the Americans will make of their closest European partners doing this.”
In Yorkshire, business leaders are broadly supportive of the Prime Minister’s move, although some reservations were expressed. Garry Wilson, a founding partner at Endless, the Leeds-based private equity firm, said “I’m proud to see David Cameron sticking up for Britain” while Richard Gregory, chairman of Yorkshire Bank, said David Cameron had no option other than to exercise his veto.
Mr Gregory added: “Personally I think it leaves us in a safer position than those inside the new treaty compact.”
John Hooper, executive director at Yorkshire Bank, said that the UK is heavily dependent on mainland Europe as a trading partner. He added: “It’s hoped they are able to sort it out because we are not immune from the consequences of their action.”
Senior Tory MP David Davis did not rule out exiting the EU altogether and dismissed Labour claims of marginalisation, insisting the French and Germans knew the UK was “too big to ignore” and accusing them of trying to pass the blame for their eurozone failures.
“We are seeing a new balance of power in Europe arising out of the eurozone crisis and we are also seeing how the French and Germans intend to use it – pretty forcefully in their own interests and ignoring the interests of others,” Mr Cameron’s one-time leadership rival told the Boulton & Co show on Sky News.
“David Cameron has to protect Britain against that, he did exactly the right thing.
“What he should be doing next is looking for a new relationship with Europe which recognises those power balances but also protects our interests both inside Europe and in terms of trading with our friends and neighbours abroad. I am sure he will do that.”
Lib Dem MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who broke away from the Tories in 2010, accused Mr Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson of trying to protect their rich friends in the City.
“These two top Tories are what my father – himself an Old Etonian – would have called unprincipled spivs,” he said.