Let's cheer the boys in blue and gold

WHERE angels fear to tread, MPs jump in with both feet. Thus former Sports Minister Tony Banks wants to see the creation of a United Kingdom football team.

WHERE angels fear to tread, MPs jump in with both feet. Thus former Sports Minister Tony Banks wants to see the creation of a United Kingdom football team.

Now most Scots will be choking over their porridge oats at such a suggestion but Mr Banks does have logic on his side. It's an insult to the rest of the world that the UK should be entitled to enter separate teams representing the four home nations in major soccer tournaments, simply because the Football Association is the oldest governing body in the world.

Mr Banks lobbed his free kick into the tranquil waters of the Scottish Nationalists' penalty box, who had tabled a parliamentary early day motion regretting "the absence of Scotland and Wales from the European Championships."

Although an insult to the Northern Irish, the motion gracefully acknowledged "the fact that the England football team and Scottish referee Stuart Dougal are at the championships and wishes them the very best of luck."

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Mr Banks tabled amendments, correcting the Northern Ireland oversight, and then adding "looks forward to the creation of a United Kingdom football team, which might increase the chances on the pitch and lessen the bad behaviour of some English fans of it."

Thus at a stroke Mr Banks aims to abolish English soccer "thugs" with their St George's Cross face paintings and create a team which might actually win something. Noble sentiments indeed.

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No doubt Brussels bureaucrats are working on an even better solution - a European Union team representing the 25 EU nations and playing in the blue and gold colours which we all know and love so well.

This team might have a chance of beating Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Norway, Croatia, Serbia & Montenegro, FYR Macedonia, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Turkey, in the European championships and be a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.

And wouldn't the metropolitan intelligensia love the end of nationalist sentiment as we flew the EU flag from our cars and stood proudly to attention when "Ode to Joy" was sung at the beginning of each match.

Fortunately, such an attack on sovereignty has not found its way into the European Constitution. In another early day motion. 77 Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs welcomed "the agreement reached in Brussels on June 18 between the 25 member states of the EU on a new constitutional treaty" and "look forward to a successful ratification in the UK and across Europe."

Has anyone we know put his or her name to such seditious sentiments? Step forward one Christopher Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich. But how did the pocket Soviet borough of Ipswich vote in the European parliamentary elections?

The Eurosceptic parties (the Tories, UKIP, Martin Bell, the Greens, British National Party) polled 20,086, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats which back the Constitution received just 11,790. This split roughly equates with the opinion poll findings nationally on support for and opposition to the Constitution.

If Labour can't deliver Ipswich into the `yes' column, then there seems little prospect of the UK backing the Constitution in the referendum.

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