Northern Ireland

DUP motion on Europe to be debated in Westminster

David Cameron
Image caption The DUP motion backs David Cameron's stance on Europe

A DUP motion praising David Cameron's decision to veto a new EU treaty will be debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The motion "commends the prime minister on his refusal at the European Council to sign up to a treaty without safeguards for the United Kingdom".

The wording also states that the use of a veto is a "a vital means of defending the national interests of the UK".

The DUP MP Nigel Dodds will begin the debate.

He believes David Cameron's decision should show Europe that the UK government will not follow whatever the EU wants.

The North Belfast MP also said he was hopeful his party's stance will receive support from across the house.

Image caption DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said that Britain's relationship with the EU needed further assessment

The party's deputy leader also insisted that the issue of a referendum over EU membership will not disappear.

He said the debate would continue as there was a need for "a proper assessment of our future relationship with the EU".

'Distraction'

The DUP motion, which will be debated for nearly four hours, comes a day after MPs questioned David Cameron about last week's EU summit.

During that debate the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was absent as the prime minister updated MPs on his reasons for using the UK's veto to block EU-wide treaty changes.

To explain his absence, Mr Clegg said afterwards he "would have been a distraction" if he had attended.

Several Conservative MPs criticised Mr Clegg's decision to stay away, one accusing him of "cowardice".

The Europe Minister, Conservative MP David Liddington, is expected to reply to Tuesday's motion.

He has insisted that the coalition would still be able to work well together, and senior Liberal Democrat politicians also say that any differences over Europe do not threaten the survival of the coalition which began in May 2010.

The Labour Party have tabled an amendment to the DUP motion which says that David Cameron put party interests ahead of the national interest in using the UK's veto.

They also claim that the government is irreparably divided over the issue of the UK's role in Europe.

'Poor'

The East Belfast MP Naomi Long is expected to support the Labour amendment.

The Alliance MP said many people believed the prime minister had made a mistake last week.

She told the BBC: "I think this was poor negotiation both tactically and in terms of outcome for the UK.

"David Cameron's decision appears to be driven more by a desire to appease the Tory right rather than actually delivering the required safeguards for the UK."

She told the BBC she would reserve her judgement on the DUP motion until she heard the debate.

The SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said her party will vote against the DUP motion.

She claimed that "David Cameron's action has isolated the people of Northern Ireland ".

The South Down MP also suggested that the prime minister was "playing to the gallery of Tory sceptics."