19th December 2011

Britain is paying the price for Cameron's isolationism

"For two and a half years Cameron's policy in the EU has led to Britain's isolation. It was tragic to see the evidence of lost British  influence at the recent summit," said Stephen Hughes, Labour MEP for the North East region in the European Parliament.

"We are an international trading economy and Cameron's anti-Europeanism and kow-towing to his back-benchers has excluded Britain from the top table.

"The recent meeting was a disaster for the British economy and business. We should not be vetoing at the sidelines, we should be there at the centre shaping the future of the interlinked European economies.

"Since the eighties, British Governments have avoided a 'two-tier Europe' where Britain is left out on the periphery. Cameron has undone that work.

"No-one is calling for Britain to join the euro, or to implement any legislation where we have an opt-out.  We simply want to see British interests defended at the heart of Europe," he said.

As part of David Cameron's campaign to become Conservative Party Leader he promised to take the Conservative MEPs out of the mainstream Centre Right EPP block in the European Parliament.  In 2009, Conservative MEPs left the EPP and set up the ECR, a fringe group in the European Parliament.

"It has been tragic for Britain watching our country lose influence in the European Parliament and European affairs generally," Stephen added.

"Cameron failed to build alliances before the summit, instead he chose to worry about irrelevant carping eurosceptic Tory backbenchers here in the UK.

"In real terms this lack of influence means jobs in the North East that I represent, and jobs and living standards all over the UK. Britain is a trading nation that relies heavily on international export and import agreements. Our biggest export market by far is the eurozone," he said.