The rift between Britain and Europe grew wider when Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly accused David Cameron of behaving ‘like an obstinate kid with a single obsession’.
The French president said the prime minister had suffered a ‘political defeat’ following last week’s summit in which he vetoed a EU treaty to tackle the debt crisis. ‘It’s the first time that we have said ‘no’ to the English,’ Mr Sarkozy told his MPs.
“Cameron behaved like an obstinate kid, with a single obsession: protecting the City, which wants to carry on behaving like an off-shore centre.”
‘Cameron behaved like an obstinate kid, with a single obsession: protecting the City, which wants to carry on behaving like an off-shore centre. No country supported him. That is the mark of a political defeat.’
Mr Sarkozy congratulated himself on the outcome of the summit in Brussels in which 26 member states agreed to closer economic ties, according to a report yesterday in political magazine Canard Enchaîné.
‘Objectively, it was a good coup. I manoeuvred well,’ he said. ‘The dynamism of the Franco-German axis enabled us to rally 26 countries.’
Mr Sarkozy has criticised Britain before. In October, he said Mr Cameron had ‘missed a good opportunity to shut up about the eurozone crisis’.
However, German chancellor Angela Merkel said Britain remained an ‘important partner’ of the EU.
Meanwhile, Nick Clegg was back by Mr Cameron’s side in parliament yesterday after snubbing the prime minister’s Commons speech on the eurozone deal on Monday. Mr Cameron brushed aside jokes about splits in the coalition by saying it was not surprising that Tories and Liberal Democrats ‘don’t always agree about Europe’. He added: ‘You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers.’
Labour leader Ed Miliband urged Mr Cameron to return to the negotiating table following the ‘catastrophic mistake’ in Brussels. Britain is also resisting EU pressure to contribute up to £30billion to the IMF to support the eurozone.