Ben Lowry: Cameron in NI cut an isolated figure compared to Boris

David Cameron was in Northern Ireland last Saturday for a flying visit.

Saturday, 5th March 2016, 6:31 pm
Updated Sunday, 6th March 2016, 7:44 pm
Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnston visits Boomer Industries which manufactures the plastic window sills for the London Boris Bus which is made in Ballymena by Wrightbus. Left to right. Boris Johnston is greeted by the DUP's Allan Ewart and Jeffrey Donaldson when he arrives with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

I interviewed the prime minister at Ian Johnston’s dairy farm near Ahoghill, where he admitted that there was a risk to the UK holding together in the event of a Brexit.

On Monday, I asked Boris Johnson, Jeffrey Donaldson and Theresa Villiers about that threat as they visited Boomers Industries in Lisburn. Not one of the three believed there is such a danger to the UK (full links to the videos below).

Mr Cameron and his convoy of bullet-proof vehicles swept into the farm after an earlier visit to Bushmills. There was a strong sense of the power and prestige of Downing Street. And yet in a way he cut an isolated figure compared to Boris on Monday. There was no local MP (Ian Paisley Junior) or secretary of state (Ms Villiers) or first minister (Arlene Foster) to greet the prime minister.

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Prime Minster David Cameron at Ballybollan House dairy farm near Ahoghill, Co Antrim. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Boris was met by all those eurosceptic politicians, and another one – the MP for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson).

I put this point to Ms Villiers and she rejected my characterisation of any isolation of the PM.

In a way she was right. Mr Cameron was over to campaign against Brexit, so it would have been odd for him to be accompanied by supporters of it. Boris was over to seal the Wrightbus deal, which had nothing to do with the EU campaign.

But even so, events have developed in a way that means Mr Cameron was unable to count on public support last Saturday from politicians who might otherwise have seemed natural allies. It was a reflection of these odd times.

Prime Minster David Cameron at Ballybollan House dairy farm near Ahoghill, Co Antrim. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire