Lib-Lab pact cries foul as No 10 keeps mum
FRENCH TEST FALLOUT: British opposition parties are united in condemning France's actions, reports John Rentoul
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Friday 08 September 1995
Tony Blair, the Labour leader, used measured language, clearly mindful of Anglo-French relations. Speaking in Belfast, he said: "I wish our government had joined with other governments right across the political spectrum in expressing regret at this action. There is no evidence that there is any military justification for it at all. It sends out the wrong signal at a time when we are trying to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons across the world ... The British government must explain why it continues to remain silent, given the world-wide anger."
The Labour leader was supported by the Liberal Democrats. Menzies Campbell, the party's foreign affairs spokesman, said: "This test is scientifically unnecessary and politically inept. It's done great damage to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation."
Mr Campbell wrote to John Major in July urging him to "use every endeavour to persuade the French government not to proceed", and Liberal Democrat and Labour Euro-MPs joined the boycott of French President Jacques Chirac's address to the European Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats will hold an emergency debate at their conference in Glasgow in 10 days' time on a motion put forward by Matthew Taylor MP, the environment spokesman, which "calls upon the British government to condemn the French government's decision".
Labour's environment spokespeople, Frank Dobson and Joan Ruddock, have, however, maintained a strikingly low profile, reflecting the relatively low priority accorded to green issues by "New Labour". Apart from Mr Blair, condemnation of the test has been led by Robin Cook, the foreign affairs spokesman, and David Clark, defence spokesman.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have held out against pressure to join in condemnation of the French nuclear tests. But Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, this week hinted that he hoped France would carry out fewer than the planned eight tests. "Obviously the French government will want to listen carefully to the expressions of concern that have been expressed in various parts of the world," he said in Ankara, Turkey.
A spokesman for John Major said: "Our priority is getting agreement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which France supports."
Britain was one of the few countries in Europe where the French tests drew no criticism from the Government. Germany - France's closest European partner - was also keen not to antagonise Paris and the government there kept its comments to a minimum; although the opposition was highly critical. The opposition Social Democrats put forward a motion calling for the test series to be stopped. And the SPD party manager Guenter Verheugen said Chancellor Helmut Kohl's criticism was "so quiet it could hardly be heard on the other side of the Rhine".
- 1 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 4 Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
- 5 Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...
£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...