A TORY MP has compared Alex Salmond to a 19th century leading Irish nationalist.


Tory MP Sir Bill Cash said the former SNP leader was 'the new Parnell' after Charles Stewart Parnell, whose lengthy speeches on the issue caused much disruption to the Westminster Parliament.

He said if elected to Gordon at May's General Election, Mr Salmond would "ruthlessly and recklessly" disrupt the UK as much as possible.

The Staffordshire MP was speaking during an Commons adjournment debate called by Gordon Brown, in which the former prime minister claimed David Cameron had lit the fuse which ultimately blows the Union apart.

His description is unlikely to upset Mr Salmond, who has previously linked himself to the Irish Home Rule leader, and citing the poetry of WB Yeats.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael advised him against predicting the outcome of the election, but added that there was "not a great deal" to show for the former SNP leader's previous time in the House.

In what Mr Brown admitted may be his final Commons address, he condemned the Conservative-led administration for claiming it had found a solution to the West Lothian Question in a matter of weeks when an answer had eluded constitutional scholars for more than a century.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, who is stepping down, urged Mr Cameron to halt his plans on English votes for English laws (evel), warning that he was throwing away the conclusive result of last year's independence referendum.

Commons leader William Hague confirmed this week that the Tories would seek to create a new legislative stage in the Commons offering an English veto on legislation which does not apply in Scotland - including on the Budget once income tax is devolved to Holyrood.

Mr Brown said the plan created two classes of MPs, a notion which had never proved successful in any country around the world, and ignored the need for the much larger English component of Britain to accommodate voices from its smaller nations.

Surrounded by a "doughnut" of Scottish Labour MPs, Mr Brown said: "It is difficult to find what an English-only bill is - if we take one possible definition, separate and distinct effect, constitutional lawyers say it encompasses just half a dozen bills in 10 years. It makes us ask why it is being put forward?

"This suggests this move is being brought in for other reasons, because the truth is whatever the practical considerations, the real damage of English votes for English laws is not from its mechanical application... the real damage before a veto is imposed is creating the perception the United Kingdom is now only about separate interests and not about a common interest.

"There is a myth the union can survive this new polarisation between Scotland and England. The myth is it is held together by bonds that are so longstanding they can overcome what is seen as a little local difficulty.

"But what may have been true in the aftermath of the Second World War and its shared sacrifice has given way to a new world where none of our ancient institutions are strong enough and popular enough on their own to hold us together.

"The Union cannot survive on mutual respect alone - although it is in short supply at the moment. It will not survive just on the basis of mutual toleration of each other, a minimalist policy of holding each other at a distance for fear we will fight each other.

"The Union will only hold together if there are things the people of our four nations believe they have in common. Only if we emphasise there are common needs and mutual interests and similar values that make us want to cooperate.

"In short, that we do best by sharing... such sharing has to preserve our historic willingness to share, to transfer risk and resources between each other to tackle issues like poverty and unemployment and inequality."

Mr Brown said 18th century premier Lord North is remembered only as the prime minister who lost America from the British empire.

He told the Commons: "This is the statesman's question - can the current Prime Minister ensure he will not be remembered in history as the Lord North of the 21st century when, on September 19 2014, for purely short-term gain, putting party before country, without considering the long-term interests of our united country and ignoring the need to reconcile and bring people together, he could have lit a fuse that eventually blows the union apart."

Mr Carmichael said there would be no easy answer or quick fix to the question.

To rush ahead would risk creating new anomalies to replace the existing ones, he said, and put pressure on the "hinges of the UK".

The Liberal Democrat minister said the "logical and lasting solution" would be the creation of a federal UK, but he accepted that could still be a long way off and called for a constitutional convention to try to build a consensus.