Does Theresa want ‘Out’?

Theresa Villiers

Recently I noted on these pages that the impending EU in/out referendum was still shrouded in ‘unknowns’, both on what Brussels will offer David Cameron and what the political landscape will look like, both in Stormont, Westminster and beyond.

Today some things may have gotten more interesting as David Cameron today Conservative Government ministers are to be allowed to campaign for either side in the referendum, likely to happen later this year.

Given Theresa Villiers’ history of euroscepticism, both during her time as an MEP in Brussels and MP she is likely to campaign for ‘out’, with some sources saying she would have otherwise resigned if she weren’t allowed to do so.

There is nothing new in having an anti-EU Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, her predecessor Owen Paterson being the best example, but it will be interesting to see how this will play-out in the referendum itself and how it will affect the political process.

With regards to the Executive and the Assembly Nationalist parties and Alliance will certainly back the ‘In’ side in the referendum. However which way the two main unionist parties will swing is still unclear, neither the soon-to-be First Minister or Mike Nesbitt have made a definite call on the vote yet.

What might make life more complicated during the referendum could be wide gap on the issue between Secretary of State Villiers and her counterpart in Dublin. Charlie Flanagan and Enda Kenny’s government have been outspoken in their belief that the UK should remain in the EU and haven’t been shy about using Northern Ireland as a good reason why. The Taoiseach even warned it could undermine the peace process, at the CBI conference in November he offered that:

“Now is not the time to weaken the cohesive, stabilising influence and outward focus that shared EU Membership brings to Northern Ireland.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs called it

“jumping over the cliff into uncertainty” and saying it could lead to the return of border checkpoints.

Putting London and Dublin at such polar opposites on this issue could provide for difficult days ahead during the referendum campaign, whenever that might take place.

Those at the Northern Ireland Office who are hoping for more of a Pro-EU message may have to look to the Under Minister of State, Ben Wallace MP, a member of the Tory party’s European Mainstream Group.

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  • Ernekid

    It’s clear evidence that David Cameron and the Tories couldn’t give a fiddlers fart about Northern Ireland, when a mediocrity like Villiers has kept the NI SoS job for so long. She’s either been massively complacent as crisis after crisis brews in Stormont or hopelessly out of her depth on local NI issues.

    I’m sure that representatives from the Ulster Farmers Union and the Agri-Food industry are looking forward to cornering her at one of these events that these folks attend and give her a bollocking for risking Northern Ireland’s place in the EU and all of the funds and grant money that entails if she lobbies for Brexit.

    I think that the farmers will swing how political Unionism reacts to the EU referendum. I hope the pragmatic stance that a small place like NI is better staying in the big boys club than leaving and hoping for the best, and all the unknowns inherent in Brexit.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well to be honest I don’t know if either side (locally anyway) would really want her on this. I don’t think the leavers will get Future Deputy Prime Minister Boris Johnson who may go neutral, I don’t think they’ll get Osborne, I don’t think they’ll get May, Patterson isn’t a minister, but effectively is the Tory face of Leave the EU movement. Philip Hammond and even surprisingly Iain Duncan Smith may be swinging to the Yes camp and there are other cabinet ministers like Michael Fallon firmly in.

    Pretty much the biggest ministeral heads they could get are probably Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan. I’d be surprised if they can get someone from the shadow cabinet either.

    In terms of the local Tories, from just a few figures the trends just seem to be in Cameron’s favour as things stand.

    Mark Brotherston of the local Tories, and EU candidate was pretty open about leaving the EU would be bad for Northern Ireland business while debating Jim Allister. Irwin Armstrong seems agnostic on this particular union, certainly backing Cameron on reform, but I think he warned against any sort of rough shot exit that could be harmful to the UK and the Republic’s business networks with the continent.

  • chrisjones2

    I agree she is useless but SOS NIs job is to be useless and let the Natives sort themselves out. I also admire your feeling that what people say here will have any impact on her view…she’s elected to represent a Wiltshire seat – thats what will count, nothing else

    The problem in the past was that the DUP and SF manufactured crises then ran to nursey (or more often to Downing Street) demanding that the Brits beat up themuns. Paterson started to stop the rot and make them talk to each other. The problems of the crises are of their making, no-one else’s and they are slowly learning that they are on their own with minimal support from London or Dublin 21st century politics for slow learners

    All the Parties here will be pro staying in the EU as they are all wedded to the subsidy teet – from London if not from Europe and Nationalists will be desperate to keep the link to the Republic in a wider EU. However we are about 2% of the UK population so in the big scheme of things it matters not unless the vote is incredibly tight

    My personal feeling is that while Dave will pull out a Munich Agreement style document to wave, it will not wash. Labour are weak on the EU. The majority of the Tories are anti. UKIP are anti and if the Conservatives deliver a BREXIT that’s the end of UKIP and solid Tory majorities in many seats now at risk. I wouldnt be surprised to see a long term 100 seat Tory majority by 2020

    On balance my bet is around a 55 / 45 to leave

  • chrisjones2

    All very good but we are 2% of the electorate and dont count in this fight

  • Greenflag 2

    Referenda have been won and/or lost by 2% . All votes count until the count finishes .

  • chrisjones2

    Fine …time will tell

  • Ernekid

    There will be all sorts of constitutional ructions if England votes to leave but Scotland, NI and Wales vote to stay in. Who knows what might happen if the Union starts to fall apart over the EU?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well 2% is the difference between 49% and 51% if things get that close. How the regional poll matches up with the GB poll would be interesting. There are perhaps 3 significant outcomes.

    1. NI vote support a GB majority decision whether or not its marginal say could affect the contest:
    NI Out/GB Out/UK Out or NI In/GB In/UK In

    2. NI vote is against a GB majority decision that renders it mute:
    NI In/GB Out/UK Out or NI Out/GB In/UK In

    3. NI decides UK vote against the will of GB majority and its marginal say does affect the contest:
    NI In/GB Out/UK In or NI Out/GB In/UK Out

    1 is boring, of course in terms of the GB-NI relationship
    2. may make NI people angry at GB and
    3 may make GB people angry at NI.

    2 & 3 Won’t damage the union in and of itself, but certainly will create noise.

  • chrisjones2

    not way to go austerity policies …way to go madness of the Euro and attempting currency union policies .

    The austerity policies are the consequence not the disease .

  • chrisjones2

    ..and posters here will rub their hands in glee at the prospects to force a UI on the majority against their will…but these are just masturbatory fantasies.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the “disease” is the credit crunch, fall in supply side productivity and an over-reliance on financialism to bring economic growth

    Also it should be noted Europe used a single currency for centuries … Gold.

  • Kevin Breslin

    A United Ireland won’t be forced, after a Brexit it’ll earn a pull factor for many people in Northern Ireland who believe it no longer works in their interest, they may feel they are being forced into a nation that desires to appease UKIP, and not business networking.

  • chrisjones2

    mastubatory fantasies

  • chrisjones2

    Cologne looks really bad and has the capacity to create a huge backlash.

    The key issue is who were they? At the moment its rumour and conjecture

  • chrisjones2

    Does the disease not vary from state to state? The problem is that they are all linked in dance of death by the Euro

  • Greenflag 2

    Not any more . Merkel has changed tack . The disease is not the Euro but the fact that western economies from the USA to UK to the EU zone and elsewhere are in thrall to international financial sector led banksters who care not a fart about the people or economies of their countries . So a new world economic and monetary order is on the way -sooner or later and in that context the UK would be better off in the Eurozone and the EU .

  • Gingray

    Really Chris?

    Being in the EU has undoubtedly strengthened the Unionist case over Northern Ireland, being outside of it may or may not cause nationalist voters soft on the constitutional issue to reconsider.

    Unless of course you want to ignore the history of Irish nationalism which has generally been responsive to events – large periods of relative contentment with the status quo, followed by short periods of rampant nationalism.

    The UK leaving the EU and an enforced border on the island of ireland would have an impact, timing as it will with a census in 2021 showing catholics as a majority at every age group under 48 (it was 38 in the 2011 census).

  • Gingray

    Don’t be so sure all the Tories will swing behind yes. Polling shows Tory voters are split around 50/50, but that Tory party members are 80/20 for out. Given that Cameron is stepping down, whichever Tory leads the Out campaign, even if it loses, will be in a much better place to win the leadership. Tho I have money on Javid to be the next PM, so I am hoping it is him 🙂

  • chrisjones2

    …and repeated polls showing many Catholics are happy to remain in the UK

    …. and you think that SF / PIRA will be upset at an even stronger border to make money out of?

    …..and by the way, personally, I dont care

  • Gingray

    For someone who doesn’t care you surely do spend a lot of time on Slugger …

    I genuinely don’t care what sinn fein think, they are irrelevant to a united Ireland at the minute. If it happens it will not be because people are suddenly convinced by their rhetoric, it will be down to some event convincing either the catholics they are better off with the south, or broader convincing people in both communities they stand to gain more in a united Ireland.

    If you go on the Irish times and independent archives just after easter 1916, they are full of editorials similar to your comment – the Irish want to stay with the UK, better off, yada yada yada. Then events took over

  • Greenflag 2

    49/51 to stay in .Must check with the Oracle in these matters i.e Paddy Power when the book starts .

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m focusing on the ministers, not backbenchers or party members. They’ll probably be 20 backbenchers or so that are diehard Leavers. I don’t believe any of the Conservatives will lead the Out campaign, I could see basically Conservatives for Britain, Business for Britain, and Labour Leave forming their own trioka within Vote Leave and UKIP dominating Leave.EU

    The Leave side don’t have a mandate to govern, they don’t have a consistent list of demands, often their demands are conflicting, and often they think they can get total influence over Britian when Britain before and after an election will be very largely Europhile, very largely pro-movement freedom, very largely anti-xenophobic before and after a referendum.

    “Controlling Britain” is really not an option for these people as they won’t have social or political power even if they win the referendum.

  • chrisjones2

    Great …I suggest you promote a rising

    And if you look at what I posy on Slugger and the range of that and at my comments you will see that this site is not all about the border

    By the way ….in your analysis above its all one sided. Brexit may convince people they are better off in the UK. Brexit plus the next phase of Euro depression / disintegration may convince the Irish that they are better off out

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yes what was I thinking European politics and agraian economics will have no constitutional impact here as history shows.

  • chrisjones2

    Already open. Marginal bias to stay in. Get your money on exit now

  • Gingray

    Why? Times changes, and the types of events that bring about change are not always the same.

    I agree, Brexit could have many different impacts. However most analysis shows that the UK will be worse off outside of the EU, while other analysis shows that the devolved regions, which get large amounts of EU funding, will face further cuts as the UK government is unlikely to offset this.

    As to your posts on Slugger:

    Does Theresa want ‘Out’?

    Belfast City Council votes to invite the NI and ROI football teams.

    Belfast Football Reception Likely In Spite Of Drum Beating

    A sobering reminder of the power of our planet

    Rebellion and its availability in Northern Ireland

    Pastor McConnell judgement: “It is not the task of the criminal law to censor offensive utterances…”

    It kinda looks like you just post on every thread, but that those that feature nationalism get much more attention.

  • Gingray

    One of the two bodies – VOTE LEAVE and LEAVE.EU, which are competing
    to be designated by the Electoral Commissioner as the official voice of
    those wanting Britain out, will be funded. They will need to pick a spokesperson for debates and such, much as Darling did (poorly) in Scotland.

    I do think you underestimate how anti EU the Tory party has become, both at MP level and party membership, and now senior members have a green light to campaign for out, they could easily position themselves to take advantage of the leadership election in 3 years time.

    Past events do not lead me to see the Tories uniting behind a pro EU stance.

  • Greenflag 2

    Power is’nt in business to lose money. Five to two on to stay in doesn’t look marginal more like a cert . Merkel’s a steady pair of hands and Cameron ‘s days are numbered .

    Also Eurozone economy is on the up and Ireland’s expected to grow 4 % and Spain is becoming the new poster child for recovery . Don’t lose too much . Power has more dosh than Midas for obvious reasons.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I might underestimate it a bit, I think I confused IDS with Hague, but personally I think in terms of leadership election Boris will go neutral and that might be a clever strategy.

    What we will see is “Euro-sceptics” coming out as “Euro-reformers”, critical of the EU but quick to say “well we can’t reform it from the outside can we?”

    Others are already highlighting dangers to the UK’s national security and the security of the UK nation as reasons to vote Yes i.e. In.

    A lot of the UK reforms are pretty much on Germany’s wishlist too, basically the ones that don’t discriminate against Poles and other Central and Eastern Europeans, there’s the leaders of a quarter of the EU population when put together. Getting another quarter bloc will be just politics.

    France & Italy/ France & Spain/Italy & Spain

    As I’ve said before the vast majority of 27 countries Europe are as equally right wing (because Europeans want it to be), equally concerned about migration, and equally not keen on federalization.

    I don’t see some sort of Leave EU take over of government once the referendum’s over, as David Cameron himself pointed out they are more focused on what they don’t want in the EU than what they want the government to do afterward if there is a British exit from the EU.

    The Eurosceptic Tories are reading off different hymn sheets, some want to massively cut agriculture after leaving CAP and others are selling the notion they are going to increase the subsidy somehow. Some are talking about investing in Science and the NHS but back policies where university and hospital staff have to go through visa processes within one year just to keep their job.

  • chrisjones2

    Ah the New World Order….just like Hitler said in The 1930s?

  • chrisjones2

    I just did a quick check and i have posted on around 15 out of the last 20 threads. How much depends on what is said and whether the argument is interesting or not.

    I didn’t realise you cared enough to stalk me!! Good luck in that

    And you will also see me post on Guido Fawkes (yes I know that will shock you) and on The Guardian (but can you find me). Its so entertaining winding up socialists about Jezza’s latest wheezes

    On a daily basis I also skim the Times, Telegraph, Irish Times and Irish Independent, NY Times and a few other s if I have the time .

  • Greenflag 2

    Modern Germany and the EU is a long way from 1930’s . Try to keep up
    For your edification heres the basic facts .
    The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states in Europe. It covers an area of 4,324,782 km2, with an estimated population of over 508 million

  • Gingray

    “And if you look at what I posy on Slugger and the range of that and at
    my comments you will see that this site is not all about the border.”

    Sorry, I took you literally and had a check, and it didnt match up with what you have said. No biggie.

    I don’t really pay much attention to GB politics, bits here and there.