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Cameron's EU Veto Statement Missed By Clegg Who Wanted To 'Avoid Distraction'

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David Cameron's Veto Was Unpopular With Lib Dems, With Nick Clegg Issuing Thinly-Veiled Criticism.
David Cameron's Veto Was Unpopular With Lib Dems, With Nick Clegg Issuing Thinly-Veiled Criticism.

David Cameron again defended his decision to veto a proposed EU-wide treaty to braying backbenchers on Monday, but without his deputy by his side.

The prime minister said he made "no apology" for rejecting a treaty which he said lacked proper safeguards to protect British interests.

Nick Clegg, who said on Sunday he was "bitterly dissapointed" by the prime minister using his veto, did not appear in the Chamber for the prime minister's statement on the European Council meetings.

As Labour MPs chanted "Where's Clegg?" - and - "You ate Clegg" at Cameron, the prime minister said: "The right answer was no treaty. It was not an easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do."

However Cameron acknowledged that there were coalition tensions on Europe, but insisted that the negotiating position had been agreed by the Cabinet ahead of the summit.

Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the prime minister of isolating Britain, saying the use of the veto was "bad for business, bad for jobs, bad for Britain". In an usually strong performance by Miliband, he said the PM had walked away from the table too soon, and failed to show leadership on the crisis.

Cameron's veto has been criticised by some business leaders, along with the Scottish government and many Liberal Democrats, including coded criticism by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Cameron's veto is being seen as one of the most destabilising events of in the coalition government's 18-month history, although most Tories are delighted at seeing their leader take a strong line on the EU.

Later it was suggested by the government that Nick Clegg had chosen not to attend the Commons for the statement, because it was felt his presence during the debate "would be a distraction". Unfortunately his absence appears to have achieved exactly that, because it's now trending on Twitter.

Here's a recap of the debate has it happened on our liveblog, feel free to comment on this developing story...

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