By the skin of his teeth British prime minister Gordon Brown won his anti-terrorism vote in parliament last night, but his 65-seat majority was slashed to only nine. The oppositon’s reaction to the figures was a roar of derision towards the northern Irish Unionists, who voted with the government, and saved Brown from defeat.
The DUP’s Sammy Wilson insisted there had been no grubby horse-trading: “I’m making it quite clear that the decision that we made tonight was based purely on the judgement of what was required to ensure the national security of the United Kingdom.”
The new laws allow the police to hold without charge for 42 days anyone suspected of involvement in an actual or planned terrorist attack, increased from the current 28 days. That extension was approved after the July 2005 bombings in London, when former prime minister Tony Blair sought a ninety-day detention period. MP’s opposed this, handing Blair his first parliamentary defeat.