Cameron’s EU isolation has ‘strengthened independence hand’ claims Welsh FM


By a Newsnet reporter
The Welsh First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has claimed that David Cameron’s decision to walk out of talks on the European treaty has helped the case for Scottish independence.
Speaking today the Welsh First Minister claimed that the situation would have an impact on trade and industry in the devolved nations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

First Minister Jones is the latest in a number of senior politicians who have attacked the Tory PM’s controversial use of the veto that has led to the isolation of the UK in Europe.

His comments follow strong criticism from First Minister Alex Salmond who accused Mr Cameron of “blundering” his way into the talks and of adopting a “little Englander” attitude.  Mr Salmond claimed that Scottish industries could be harmed and wrote to the Tory PM seeking an explanation for his decision.

Echoing Mr Salmond’s concerns the Welsh First Minister said: “I am very worried that Wales could be disadvantaged by the Prime Minister’s anti-European rhetoric, which is designed to appease Tory Eurosceptics.  I don’t want investors to be put off bringing jobs to Wales because of concerns that their access to the EU market could be at risk.”

Mr Jones joined others who have said the decision helps the case for Scottish independence, and added: “David Cameron is playing into the hands of the SNP by withdrawing from the top table at Europe.  It would be reckless to turn the referendum in Scotland into a choice between the UK and the EU.”

SNP Westminster leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Angus Robertson MP claimed that the decision had harmed each of the three devolved administrations.

A call for a meeting between Mr Cameron and the heads of each of the other UK partners was dismissed by the Tory PM who claimed that the matter was reserved.

Labelling the UK PM’s attitude as a “foolish desire to placate his Little Englander backbenchers” Mr Robertson added:

“And in cavalierly refusing the requests of the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers to have an urgent meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to discuss the implications for our nations of what the Tories have done, David Cameron has snubbed both Scotland and Wales.

“David Cameron and the Tories have given no thought as to how their isolation in Europe policy will affect key Scottish industries, such as farming, fishing, and financial services – which in any event are already subject to qualified majority voting.

“It is absolutely essential that Scotland has a seat at the top table in Europe as an independent nation.  Labour’s Carwyn Jones is one of many who recognise that Cameron’s actions leave Scotland and the rest of the UK with no voice at all.

“The UK has rarely spoken up for Scotland and now it has walked away.  Only with independence will Scotland have the right to argue our own case in Europe, and protect our vital national interests.”

The comments from the Welsh First Minister coincided with a direct attack on the UK government by Jose Manuel Barroso.  The head of the European Commission claimed that demands made by Mr Cameron were impossible to agree to and could have led to the collapse of the European single market.

Mr Barroso said: “As you know, one member state was opposed to amending the Lisbon Treaty.

“The United Kingdom, in exchange for giving its agreement, asked for a specific protocol on financial services which, as presented, was a risk to the integrity of the internal market.

“This made compromise impossible.  All other heads of government were left with the choice between paying this price or moving ahead without the UK’s participation and accepting an internal agreement among them.”

An agreement between the other members is expected to be reached by March next year.

Speaking today in the European parliament SNP MEP Alyn Smith brought applause when he suggested that an independent Scotland would welcome the opportunity to have a seat with the other nations in the EU.