Deal with Goldsmith splits Ulster Unionists

An Ulster Unionist split widened yesterday when the party's lone European MP switched from the pro-EU European People's Party to Sir James Goldsmith's Europe of Nations group in the European Parliament. After David Trimble, the party leader, formally announced the controversial decision yesterday, the deputy leader John Taylor distanced himself from the move.

"It was mentioned vaguely to me about 10 days ago that there were talks ongoing, but I wasn't aware that any decision had been reached," he told BBC Radio's World at One. "I have since discovered that the European policy committee of our party didn't know about it either."

Mr Taylor also warned that his party's representative on the EU Committee of the Regions, in Brussels, might now have to leave the European People's Party, the group to which the Conservative Party belongs.

"It means that the UUP in Europe, which was a member of the mainstream centre-right grouping is now going to be with a very small group of only 17 members in the European Parliament, and should that group disappear, we're going to be left totally isolated."

Doubts were also raised about two other elements of the package - the influence to be wielded by Sir James and his UK Referendum Party, and the money that was reported to be in it for the Ulster Unionists.

Following speculation that Sir James would pay the Ulster Unionists up to pounds 250,000 for the deal, the financial edge appeared much less clear- cut.

Sir James said: "We wanted to inform and create a debate, and obtain a referendum, obviously for all the people of the UK. Therefore, we had allocated a certain amount of promotional funds for Northern Ireland." Asked if those funds would go directly to the UUP, he said: "No. They will go from us directly to the cause of obtaining a referendum."

Mr Trimble said in Belfast that the arrangement was European, and would give Sir James no influence at Westminster. "There is no linkage between us and the Referendum Party," he said.

Given the importance of the nine-strong Unionist vote in the Commons, government whips will be pleased with the reassurance that it would be business as usual.

Donald Macintyre, page 11

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links