POLITICS

Labour Conference 2014: Dave Was An 'Idiot Abroad' And It Cost Us In Brussels, Says EU Labour Party Leader

22/09/2014 14:23 BST | Updated 22/09/2014 14:59 BST

David Cameron made the UK a laughing stock by acting like a typical English 'idiot abroad' in Brussels, attempting to block the appointment of the EU President, Labour's leader at the EU has told the party's conference.

Labour's leader in the European Parliament, Glenis Willmott MEP said the PM's "tantrums" over Jean-Claude Juncker's appointment showed the Tories cannot deliver leadership in Europe and that his "toddler diplomacy" has serious consequences on the continent.

And shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said that Britain was 'sleepwalking' to an EU exit because of how Cameron had burned bridges on the continent and put chances of a renegotiation of Britain's agreement with Europe in jeopardy.

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Glenis Willmott, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party

"David Cameron is a case study in how to lose friends and influence nothing, the idiot abroad," Willmott told the conference in Manchester. "Conference, let me remind you of the woeful tale. If you're sitting comfortably then I'll begin. Once upon a time in a land far, far away, desperate Dave took a train to Brussels to meet Mrs Merkel.

"Mrs Merkel was very powerful and had lots of very powerful friends. But the naughty boys at the back of Dave's class, let's call it the upper class and let's call the boys Boris and Nigel. They told Dave that he couldn't be chums with Mrs Merkel. Now Dave desperately wanted the naughty boys to like him.

"So he did as he was told, and refused to play with Mrs Merkel and her friends. Of course, then when it came to helping Mrs Merkel choose the new head boy, shall we call him Mr Juncker. Well Dave stamped his feet and suddenly wanted Mrs Merkel and her friends to play by his rules. Well we all know how that ended in tears and tantrums.

"Conference, the Tories simply can't deliver the leadership and reform we need in Europe. While David Cameron's toddler diplomacy is the cause of much amusement, his incompetence on the European stage has very real and serious consequences. Under Cameron the UK's influence in Brussels has been eroded, putting our national interest and the reforms and progress we need on hold. Under Cameron, the UK is sleepwalking to exit, causing great economic uncertainty and damaging investment in our country."

In a separate address, Alexander said the Prime Minister's pandering to Eurosceptic backbenchers meant he has burnt the relationships with other EU leaders he needs to get any renegotiated settlement.

"Europe does face a moment of reckoning which is why Labour has supported European sanctions against Russia and why, as Europe, we must stand united in our commitment today to Ukraine," he said.

"And yet our Prime Minister has spent the past four years burning bridges instead of building alliances with other European countries.

"As a Tory leader, he has settled for following his backbenchers instead of leading his party or speaking up for Britain.

"Britain leaving Europe would present the biggest threat to British national prosperity in a generation. And as Labour we understand that Europe is both a strategic and an economic asset for Britain.

"Like British business, we understand that sleepwalking towards exit is not just bad politics, it is disastrous economics for our country. As Labour, now with 20 Labour members of the European Parliament, we want to see Britain at the heart of a changed European Union. Europe can be made to work better for Britain. That is what Labour will deliver and that is what Britain deserves."