Claim will do little to enhance Cameron's reputation at Stormont.
Claim will do little to enhance Cameron’s reputation at Stormont
David Cameron has been forced to deny suggestions that he left talks in Northern Ireland to attend a ‘rave’ party for his wife.
Cameron, and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, arrived in Northern Ireland last Thursday to help take forward talks between the parties over thorny issues such as the past, parades, the flying of flags and coping with budget cuts as a result of Stormont’s blocking of welfare reforms.
Cameron and Kenny left the talks first thing on Friday.
The Daily Mail however has reported that Cameron left early so that he could attend an Ibiza style rave party to celebrate his wife’s birthday at Chequers.
It’s reported that among those attending were comedian Harry Enfield, actress Helena Bonham Carter, designer Karen Millen, Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
Now Labour has called on the PM to answer ‘serious questions’ about the reasons for his ‘abrupt departure’ from the talks. Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, Ivan Lewis has said:
“I have no problem with David Cameron attending a family celebration. However, his unwillingness to remain in Northern Ireland for a longer period in order to broker progress caused serious concern at the time.
“This is an incredibly fragile time for political stability in Northern Ireland and the prime minister had a duty to either stay the course or visit at a time when he could give the situation his fullest attention.
“He now has serious questions to answer about whether he was less than truthful about his reasons for an abrupt departure, which made an already fraught situation worse.”
A spokesperson for Downing Street responded to the allegations by pointing out that the two prime ministers took the decision together to leave the talks. The decision, the spokesperson said, was made solely on the position of talks at the time.
Despite the statement however, the story will do little to enhance the prime minister’s credibility in Northern Ireland.
Former Northern Ireland secretaries Peter Hain and Paul Murphy earlier this week criticised Cameron for failing to commit to the talks for a much longer period. Meanwhile Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams dubbed the involvement of Cameron and Kenny ‘little more than a charade’.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.