Deputy Prime Minister said on Sunday he was bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week's European Union summit and had told Prime Minister David Cameron it was bad for Britain but denied the coalition was on the verge of collapse.

It would be even more damaging for us as a country if the coalition government were now to fall apart. That would create economic disaster for the country at a time of great economic uncertainty, said Clegg, leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrats.

But Clegg criticised some members of the Conservative party, the main force in the coalition, who want Britain to leave the EU.

A Britain which leaves the EU will be considered to be irrelevant by Washington and would be considered a pygmy in the world when I want us to stand tall and lead in the world, Clegg told BBC TV.

Britain on Friday opted out of a plan to forge ahead with a new European Union treaty with a tougher deficit and debt regime to avoid a repetition of the debt crisis in future, saying it had not got safeguards for its financial services industry.

(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi)