Ed Balls has given an interview this morning to the FT where he accuses European leaders of “catastrophic failure of leadership“, warning that the debate over Britain’s isolation should not obscure the wider danger to the eurozone.
This is politically significant as it implies that the shadow chancellor is aware of the fact that the British public rather enjoys the sight of the prime minister “standing up” to Brussels. A poll by Populus for the Times this morning suggested that 14 per cent of the public disagree with Cameron’s stance while 57 per cent agree.
Thus Balls’ focus more on the fact that the eurozone crisis has not been tackled; for example the summit has not yet addressed the role of the EC in heading off the sovereign debt crisis.
“We were told in the days and weeks ahead of the summit that it was the vital meeting, but then nothing happens,” he said. “There was an abdication of responsibility by all, not just by some.”
Balls also warned that the action had left the business and the City more vulnerable with a tougher fight for the UK in future on issues such as financial services regulations. He would say that, wouldn’t he – you might argue. But don’t be surprised if some senior City figures pop up this week to voice their own concerns about whether Cameron’s attempt to “safeguard” their industry has backfired.
There was a telling moment this morning at the Downing St lobby when the spokesman was asked whether the City’s prospects had been enhanced by Friday’s shenanigans.
There was a pause, before the spokesman replied: “We are constantly discussing these issues on financial services, it is not for me to make predictions about what might happen in the future. What I’ll say is what we were asking for was entirely reasonable.”
That is clearly not a definitive “yes“.
Meanwhile there is a clear gap between Cameron saying that Britain will thwart attempts by the EU26 to use EU institutions in the future – and Clegg saying that the UK will not stand in the way. Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian asked this morning whether the other nations will be banned from the buildings and forced to debate their positions in Starbucks: to this there was no clear reply.
We were also reminded (by Paul Waugh) of Clegg’s comments last Thursday about how he worked “in lockstep” and “hand in glove” with the prime minister over Britain’s negotiating position. That is now evidently not the case. Despite numerous Lib Dem briefings on Friday that Clegg had been updated throughout the night, we now know that he was not told about the veto until 4am.