Prime Minister David Cameron, finding himself alone in Europe, could have taken a leaf out of a predecessor's book and hidden an aide under his desk.

Two decades ago, fellow Conservative Prime Minister John Major found himself in a similar predicament as he negotiated with other leaders over Britain's relationship with the European Union.

John Kerr, Britain's ambassador to Europe, managed to sneak into the negotiating room, bypassing the security system to hand scripted notes to Major from under the desk.

Everybody knew that he was in the room, but they all simply turned a blind eye to it, Stephen Wall, former foreign policy advisor to Major, told Reuters.

Although they were at that stage where it was clear that Britain was going to get what it wanted from the treaty.

Cameron broke with other European Union nations in the early hours of Friday when he refused to sign up to a treaty change to cement closer fiscal union for those countries with the single currency. Britain has retained its pound.

The Maastricht treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, laid out plans for more powers to be handed to the European Parliament, but Major fought to eliminate the term 'federal' from the treaty.

Instead, European leaders agreed adopted a policy of ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.

(Reporting by Philip Baillie; editing by Robert Woodward)