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Gordon Brown was struggling last night to shore up his authority after suffering his first Commons defeat as prime minister when MPs voted to allow all retired Gurkhas to settle in Britain…
The political atmosphere changed yesterday after MPs backed by 267 votes to 246 a Liberal Democrat demand for “an equal right of residence for all Gurkhas”.
The defeat was a particular blow to Brown, who had strongly defended the government’s position when he faced sustained questioning on the Gurkhas from Cameron and Nick Clegg. Brown said an open policy could result in up to 100,000 Nepalese veterans and their relatives coming to the UK, at a cost of £1.4bn.
A Labour Prime Minister whose ideology sounds like a beancounter.
The vote was a personal victory for Clegg who was widely praised for putting in his strongest performance at prime minister’s questions when he condemned Brown for his “shameful” approach. “Can [the prime minister] not see that there is a simple moral principle at stake, and it is this: if someone is prepared to die for this country, surely they deserve to live in this country?” Clegg asked.
Clegg held a joint press conference after the vote outside the Commons with Cameron flanked by the actor Joanna Lumley, whose father fought with the Gurkhas in Burma. Lumley said: “Just before this vote was taken our spirits were nearly at zero. When it came through we saw it on the screen and I can’t tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride – pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our parliament.”
We seem to be catching a few bright moments around the planet, lately. Some of the same old scum are still in power; but, maybe this is one of those days worth remembering.