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British coalition not threatened by EU veto

Cameron's move to veto EU treaty changes will not threaten coalition government, say Cabinet officials

AFP , Monday 12 Dec 2011
David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron (Photo: AP)
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The junior partner in Britain's ruling coalition insisted Monday ‎that Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to veto European ‎Union treaty changes would not threaten the government.‎

The smaller, pro-Europe Liberal Democrats have criticised ‎Conservative leader Cameron for keeping Britain out of a deal ‎by the other 26 EU nations at a summit in Brussels last week ‎aimed at propping up the euro.‎

But Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander, a Liberal ‎Democrat cabinet minister, said that, despite the row, the ‎coalition formed in May last year to tackle Britain's record deficits ‎would survive. "This doesn't threaten the coalition," Alexander ‎told BBC radio.‎

‎"The coalition was formed, two parties coming together in the ‎national interest to deal with the fundamental economic ‎challenges that we face as a country,” he said. "That task is the ‎central task of this government, and it is a task that we will ‎continue over the full five years until 2015 when there will be ‎another general election."‎

His comments came a day after Deputy Prime Minister Nick ‎Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, opened a potential ‎rift in the coalition by saying Cameron's decision was "bad for ‎Britain." Clegg had also warned the move could leave the ‎country as an international "pygmy.”‎

Cameron has said he took the decision to safeguard London's ‎vital financial services industry. Alexander said there were ‎bound to be differences in a coalition. "Of course you have two ‎parties with different views on a range of subjects, and that ‎difference is most accentuated perhaps on the subject of ‎Europe," he said.‎

‎"But that's why I think it is so important that we look at how we ‎act as a government now, so that this setback does not become ‎permanent isolation," Alexander added. ‎

Opinion polls show broad public support for Cameron's move.‎

In a poll for The Times published on Monday, 57 per cent of ‎voters supported his decision on Europe, and only 12 per cent ‎believed the veto would not safeguard the City of London. The ‎Populus poll sampled 1,951 people.‎

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