British PM dismisses Sarkozy EU row

2011-10-24 19:06

London - A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday brushed off French criticism that he was interfering in the eurozone crisis, saying London had a "clear interest" in resolving it.

He did not deny reports that President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a scathing attack on Cameron at Sunday's EU summit - the president said he was "sick" of Britain telling the 17-nation eurozone what to do - but refused to characterise it as a row.

"There was a discussion about whether or not there should be a European Council as well as a eurozone meeting on Wednesday. We thought it was important to have a meeting of all the 27 member states," the spokesperson told reporters.

"There were some different views around the table but in the end it was agreed that there should be a meeting of all 27."

He added: "I think it was in that context that he [Sarkozy] made the points he made.

"We have a clear interest as do other members of the European Union in what happens in the eurozone."

According to British media reports, Sarkozy told Cameron: "We're sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn't want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings."

Cameron is also facing a row at home over Europe. More than 80 Tory MPs were expected to defy his order to vote against a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union during a parliamentary debate later on Monday.

"There is obviously a lot of debate today about our political relationship with the European Union but one thing which is beyond doubt is the extent of our economic relationship with the European Union," Cameron's spokesperson said.

"And therefore what happens in the eurozone and in other eurozone countries matters to us, and we need to be involved in that discussion."

The British leader has cancelled his planned trips to New Zealand and Japan in order to attend the EU meeting on Wednesday.