Blair taunts Howard with EADT

IT'S not often that anything I write is used by the Prime Minister to make a point, but that's just what Tony Blair did in the Commons when he accused the Tories of running away from UKIP.

IT'S not often that anything I write is used by the Prime Minister to make a point, but that's just what Tony Blair did in the Commons when he accused the Tories of running away from UKIP.

Harwich MP Ivan Henderson had given Mr Blair my article of a few weeks regarding remarks by Tory candidate Douglas Carswell that Britain should leave the EU if the British people rejected the proposed Constitution but every other country endorsed it.

Mr Carswell was trying to counter the threat posed by UKIP to his bid to overturn Mr Henderson's 2,503 Labour majority.

Mr Blair, who had the EADT article among his briefing papers in the Commons, taunted Michael Howard: "It is gutless to run from the UK Independence Party. He has ended up in a situation whereby his policy now is to renegotiate Britain's existing terms of membership, which would mean that Britain would face either humiliation in that negotiation, or withdrawal from Europe.

"I agree that it is difficult sometimes in this country to make the case for Europe, but I will carry on making that case because it is right and in Britain's interest. A true leader would stand up to UKIP, not run from it."

Mr Henderson has now challenged the Tory leader to disown Mr Carswell, whose views on Europe are at odds with the official Conservative policy that the UK should reject the European Constitution but remain a full member of the European Union.

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Referring Mr Carswell's remarks in this column on October 15, Mr Henderson writes in a letter: "As this candidate has been endorsed by the Conservative Party under your leadership and as he has been supported by visits to the Harwich constituency by Conservative Party front bench spokesmen, it would be reasonable for the electorate to assume that he speaks on behalf o the Conservative Party when he gives interviews to the regional media.

"Would you please confirm whether the position expressed by Mr Carswell or the position expressed by yourself is that of the Conservative Party and if, as I assume, it is you who is reflecting the Conservative Party's true position, would you please confirm whether or not Mr Carswell has the support of the Conservative Party on the issue of Europe."

Ouch – a bouncer in the best traditions of Ian Botham. Mr Henderson told me: "Howard can't win. His candidate has left himself totally exposed in his desperate bid to stop his supporters backing UKIP."

Mr Carswell said not only was he "entirely unfazed" by Mr Henderson's mischief making, but flattered that the MP should be devoting so much time to publicising his views.

"The people Harwich will have noted that it is the Prime Minister, backed by Mr Henderson, who wants to sign up to the European Constitution, scrap the pound, and wants Britain to lose control of its borders and immigration policy."

TO coincide with last week's signing of the European Constitution, a website has been launched allowing Internet users to download the full text of the document. The site is in German, English and French, with the other official languages of the EU following shortly.

Make sure you've enough ink in your printer – its 325 pages long. Log on to http://europa.eu.int/constittion.

GEORGE W. Bush's 3.5million popular vote victory on Tuesday was a stunning achievement for a President sneered at by the intellectual liberal establishment of California and North East states but for whom millions of black and white voters who identitfy themselves as on the conservative religious right – opposing social reforms such as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research – turned out in unprecedented numbers.

Although we might mock American elections and the quirky electoral college – despite the national vote margin, the election hinged on which candidate would carry Ohio – their transparency is something I have long advocated should be introduced over here. The United States votes every fourth year on the first Tuesday of November – therefore with the appropriate calendar, we could now name the date on which the contest will be held in the year 2524.

Not so in the UK, where the Prime Minister can choose the date which he or she believes offers the best chance or re-election, as long as it is up five years of the previous contest.

In the US, you can't buck your destiny. A deeply unpopular president has to face the consequences. Here, the PM can put off the evil day in the hope that things will get better.

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