Well, that nice Mr Cameron gets around a bit. In between creating a ‘new political force’ in Northern Ireland and returning there this week to address the UUP conference, Dave Cameron has been meeting with the leader of the opposition in Ireland.
FG leader Enda Kenny and Conservative leader David Cameron met in London last Thursday.
Unlike the UUP, Enda and Dave managed to pull off an agreement to cooperate within an afternoon and without any turbulence.
According to the Irish Times:
FINE GAEL and the Conservative Party in Britain are to forge a stronger relationship following the first meeting between the two party leaders in London yesterday.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told The Irish Times that the 45-minute meeting at Mr Cameron’s office in the House of Commons had been “open and enthusiastic” and had shown common ground on key issues including taxation and the North.
(Staff at Bobballs trust the latter two points were treated separately.) So FG are going to send advisers, frontbenchers and local government council leaders to meet with Tories in London. They’ll observe policy formulation etc. This seems like alot of commitment.
The really interesting bit is this:
He [Enda] said they would move towards a relationship with the Conservatives which would be “stronger than for years”.
The two parties have had a relationship through the centre-right European Peoples Party bloc in the European Parliament for 15 years, but the Conservative Party is to leave that alliance next year.
So what is going on? FG are in the EPP-ED and recently campaigned ‘Yes’ to Lisbon. Dave wants to leave the EPP-ED, put Lisbon to a referendum in Britain (assuming he’s PM soon) and campaign for a ‘No’ vote.
Dave has a commitment to leave the EPP-ED in 2009. He already has a joint Tory/UUP candidate who will take their whip in Brussels (assuming he gets in). And now we have this “open and enthusiastic” meeting with Enda (who commands 5 MEPs… assuming they get in).
After the Labour/FG failure and split at the general election, the gulf between the two parties has widened. Labour has gone left and FG has gone right. But how far right is Enda Kenny willing to go?
Are Enda and Reg planning to join Cameron in departing the EPP-ED (erm… the largest, most influential grouping in the European Parliament)?
Cameron knows withdrawal from EPP-ED is not without risk. But is he building a coalition of the willing… in Ireland? What’s Dave got up his sleeve? Next year’s European election is going to be a bit tasty – none your average, ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers, dull ol’ Brussel sprouts round ‘ere. No sir.
So surely something significant on Europe is happening here. Perhaps Dave will throw some more light on this come Friday at the UUP conference… or come this Saturday at the Cameron Direct event.