The Tories claim they "vetoed" a new European Treaty in order to stop Europe damaging our country and the financial sector of our economy. But the reality is very different. The reality is that the decision-making procedure for any financial transaction tax is subject to unanimity, not to qualified majority voting. There was no attempt at all by any country to impose such a tax on the UK at the EU summit. The Conservatives introduced this issue and the demand for safeguards at the last minute as a pretext so they could have a reason to block any changes to the EU treaties. This was done for internal reasons to avoid having a referendum and because of hostility to the European Union on the Conservative benches.
On Sunday evening 11 December I took part in a discussion on the outcome of the EU Summit on BBC “Westminster Hour” on Radio 4 and drew attention to the damage done to our country and our influence by the Cameron misnamed “Veto” and walk out.
On Monday 12 December I pointed out to the Prime Minister that no previous Tory PM had walked out of a treaty negotiation.
Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Prime Minister believe that if Baroness Thatcher and John Major had followed his negotiating tactics, we would have had the Single European Act or the opt-outs on Maastricht that John Major negotiated with Chancellor Kohl?
On Tuesday 13 December I spoke in the opposition day debate on the European Union and pointed out in interventions
Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): Is not the reality that nothing has changed with regard to financial services? Twenty-six cannot impose qualified majority voting; nor can 27. At the end of the day, therefore, the so-called veto was not a real veto, because 26 have gone ahead. The reality is that we still have the right to block changes in that respect under the Single European Act.
Mike Gapes: My hon. Friend should also be aware that none of the ambassadors, based in London, of the other 26 European Union states knew in advance what the British Government were trying to get out of this summit. How on earth could they report back to their countries in advance what might be the necessary concessions to get agreement if they were not told in advance?