U.K.'s Cameron defends European treaty holdout

British Prime Minister David Cameron is defending his decision to reject a plan meant to solve Europe's financial crisis, saying it would not have safeguarded British interests.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks in the House of Commons on Monday as he defends his decision to veto a European plan meant to combat the financial crisis swamping the region. (Associated Press)

British Prime Minister David Cameron sought Monday to defend to members of Parliament his decision to reject a plan meant to solve Europe's financial crisis, saying it would not have safeguarded British interests.

At a summit last week in Brussels, the U.K. was the only country among the European Union's 27 members to reject a plan that would have placed limits on deficits that EU countries can run. The plan would have also forced the members to submit their budgets to Brussels for approval.

Cameron said he vetoed the deal because it did not have "safeguards" on financial regulation.

Cameron said that creating a new treaty within the current European treaty would have changed the nature of the arrangement, stressing that he felt the proposed plan would have left the country without any safeguards.

"The right answer was no treaty," Cameron said during a raucous session in the House of Commons.

"We were not trying to create an unfair advantage" for the U.K., Cameron said. "We were not asking for a U.K. opt-out"

"I believe in the EU with the flexibility of a network, not the inflexibility of a bloc," he said.

"I am absolutely clear that it is possible to be a both a full, committed and influential member of the EU but to stay out of arrangements where they do not protect our interests," Cameron said.

Opposition Leader Ed Miliband, the head of the Labour Party, accused Cameron of giving up the U.K.'s seat at the European table.

"Far from protecting our interests, he has left us without a voice," Miliband said. 

"It's not a veto, when the thing you wanted to stop goes ahead without you.... that's called letting Britain down," he said.

Miliband also referred several times to the reaction of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the government coaltion with Cameron's Conservatives. On Sunday, Clegg panned Cameron's move to block the treaty. 

Clegg was not in the House of Commons for the statements, showing the rift that has opened between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

With files from The Associated Press