UK & World News

  • 27 June 2014, 13:52

PM Facing 'Utter Humiliation' Over Juncker

The appointment of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker to the top job in Brussels would represent an "utter humiliation" for the Prime Minister, says Ed Miliband.

The Labour leader accused David Cameron of "burning alliances" in Europe, and said Britain lost out as a result.

His criticism came as the PM faced almost certain defeat in Brussels, with the EU set to approve the former leader of Luxembourg as president of the European Commission.

Labour had backed Mr Cameron in opposing Mr Juncker's candidacy.

Mr Miliband said: "If Mr Juncker is appointed today it represents, after weeks of spin and bluster from the Prime Minister, a total failure to deliver and an utter humiliation.

"The reason is that instead of building alliances in Europe, David Cameron burns our alliances, and its Britain that loses out."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "I think what's clear is that any cards that Mr Cameron may have had to play have been spent, and have been lost over a futile battle that he was bound to lose from the beginning.

"The renegotiation now doesn't look very likely.

"He has been been humiliated today but worse than that he actually looks very isolated."

Mr Cameron has been campaigning against the appointment of Mr Juncker, arguing he would block reform of the EU.

He has forced a vote on the nomination, breaking with tradition that the Commission chief is chosen by consensus of the EU's national heads of government.

Speaking on arrival at a summit of the European Council in Brussels, Mr Cameron argued there were times when "you stick to your principles and you stick to your convictions".

The European elections "showed there is huge disquiet about the way the European Union works", and this was the wrong response said Mr Cameron.

The PM said: "He's not the right person to take this organisation forward.

"I am very clear about the right thing to do. I know the odds are stacked against me, but that doesn't mean you change your mind, it means you stand up for what you believe and vote accordingly."

Mr Cameron has warned fellow leaders of "consequences" if they press ahead with the nomination of Mr Juncker, with British officials making clear he fears his appointment will fuel Euroscepticism in the UK and make it more likely that Britons will vote to quit the EU in the referendum he is planning for 2017.

The PM's stance has left him increasingly isolated at the two-day summit.

Germany has thrown its weight behind Mr Juncker, while other potential allies for Mr Cameron - Sweden and the Netherlands - have dropped their opposition.

Only Hungary remained as a possible partner for Britain in voting against his installation.

Finland's prime minister Alexander Stubb said British voters should "wake up and smell the coffee" about the benefits of EU membership, rather than threaten to quit the 28-nation bloc.

Ahead of formal meetings, Mr Cameron held brief talks with Mrs Merkel where he made clear he would not negotiate over his opposition to Mr Juncker.

A British official said: "Nobody will leave today unsure that when the Prime Minister says something he means it and when he says something is a principle he sticks to it."

Eurosceptic Conservative backbencher John Redwood did not view Mr Cameron's isolation in Brussels as a problem.

Writing on his blog, the former Cabinet minister said: "The battle over Mr Juncker was but the first skirmish in a long negotiation of a new relationship for the UK with the rest of the EU.

"If the rest of the EU continue to be so unsympathetic to UK requirements, more UK voters will draw their own conclusions about the desirability of our continued membership."

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