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6 January 2012

Cameron comes unstuck on Europe

"I'm not making a great claim to have achieved a safeguard," PM forced to admit.

By George Eaton

After Nick Clegg’s appearance yesterday, it was David Cameron’s turn on the Today programme this morning (the Ed Miliband vacuum remains a mystery). On the economy, he attributed the UK’s woes to the eurozone crisis and “stubbornly high” inflation (partly, of course, due to the 2.5 per cent increase in VAT). Cameron pointed to government support for the economy such as “boosting the number of apprenticeships” but said nothing to suggest that the government has any new ideas to combat the likely double-dip recession.

But it was on Europe that the Prime Minister came unstuck. Challenged by Evan Davis to explain what his “veto” actually prevented other EU member states from doing, Cameron was unable to say. “I’m not making a great claim to have achieved a safeguard,” he was forced to concede.

Cameron was unable to guarantee that members of the fiscal union would be blocked from using the EU’s institutions, only saying that the legal position was “unclear”. But the suspicion among eurosceptics, as ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie writes this morning, is that the presence of Nick Clegg means Britain is unable to “enforce the implications of David Cameron’s veto.

The interview ended on a lighter note, with Cameron asked to turn film critic and give his opinion of The Iron Lady. He praised a “really staggering” piece of acting from Meryl Streep but said he was saddened that the film was “much more about ageing and dementia than about an amazing Prime Minister”. “Why do we have to have this film right now?,” he asked, the implication being that it was indecent to portray the decline of a living former prime minister.

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