DUP motion attracts Commons majority
Yet even then, it is not likely that the constituent nations of the United Kingdom will be united. In Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP (SNP) has made it known that the Prime Minister made a ‘blundering’ decision. In Wales, Carwyn Jones AM (Labour) says David Cameron has left the principality ‘sidelined’ in Europe. But in Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson MLA (DUP) is praising Mr Cameron to the skies. So ecstatic are these proud Prods that yesterday they introduced a motion praising the Prime Minister for his recent stance. The motion ‘commends the Prime Minister on his refusal at the European Council to sign up to a treaty without safeguards for the United Kingdom’. The wording also states that the use of a veto is a ‘a vital means of defending the national interests of the UK’.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds led the debate (Mr Robinson being no longer an MP), and explained that Britain’s ‘relationship with the EU’ (His Grace is increasingly irritated by that phrase) needs further assessment. Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme on Monday, Mr Dodds said: "Now we have a situation where, for instance, the Irish Republic has been told, you are only going to borrow so much and you might have to do away with your corporation tax. I don't think in the long run that kind of approach, one-size-fits-all in Europe, is going to actually lead to the kind of growth economically that all countries need in order to make their economies prosperous and work well."
He’s not wrong there.
Mr Dodds' parliamentary colleagues queued to speak in the three-hour debate, and they were unanimous in their adulation of the Prime Minister. Jim Shannon raised the plight of the County Down fishing industry; David Simpson mentioned the agri-food sector; Willie McCrea said the Prime Minister 'did what was right and that is not always easy'. Jeffrey Donaldson aluded to the Empire of Charlemagne, observing a 'bandwagon driven by Germany and France to take us to a European super-state'.
Responding for the Government, the Europe Minister David Lidington welcomed the DUP's kind comments. Henry Bellingham returned the kindness, describing the DUP as 'true allies' who were 'consistent and reliable'. (His Grace won't say he told you so...).
But we've come to a sorry pass when the leadership of the DUP is lauding the Prime Minister while the leadership of the Liberal Democrats – the Coalition partners – are absenting themselves from the Chamber and/or voting against a motion commending the Prime Minister for defending the national interest.
One wonders what clout we will have in the EU when it is no longer the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom attending European Council meetings, but the disparate and divided representatives from London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. United we stand.