Scotland's Salmond attacks Cameron over EU treaty veto

12th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on Monday accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of damaging Scottish interests by vetoing a new European Union treaty.

In an angry letter, nationalist leader Salmond also lashed out at Cameron for blocking the treaty at Friday's EU summit without first consulting Britain's devolved administrations, including the one in Edinburgh.

He accused Cameron of "blundering into apparently changing the UK's entire relationship with the European Union -- without even discussing it with his own Lib Dem coalition colleagues, never mind the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast."

"As the price of playing to his own backbenchers, the prime minister now leads a riven administration -- with zero credibility in EU negotiations across the range of policy areas where Scotland's interests are crucially affected," he wrote.

While the Scottish administration has considerable powers, including over areas such as health and education, London retains control of key areas such as foreign policy and defence.

Cameron refused to back an agreement by the other 26 EU states to join a "new fiscal compact" at marathon talks in Brussels last week, angering much of Europe as it tries to prop up the euro.

Salmond demanded answers from the Conservative leader about the potential impact of a veto on Scottish interests, including whether London assessed the risk of the veto on investment in Scotland before going ahead.

He added the veto demonstrated that "Scotland urgently needs a voice at the top table when our vital national interests are being discussed, by becoming an independent member state, instead of being shut out of the room."

In May elections, Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) won the first overall majority in the Edinburgh parliament since it opened in 1999 and will hold a referendum on independence from Britain.

The veto also angered Cameron's pro-Europe coalition partners the Liberal Democrats. Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, on Sunday warned the move risked leaving Britain "isolated and marginalised" in the EU.

© 2011 AFP

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