By an accident of timing, William Hague’s departure from the Foreign Office has come on the same day as the confirmation, by the European Parliament, that Jean-Claude Juncker will be the next president of the European Commission. One of Mr Hague’s last, losing, battles was to prevent Mr Juncker from getting the Commission job. His successor at the Foreign Office, Philip Hammond, will inherit the crucial task of trying to manage Britain’s relationship with the EU. Read more
By Jamie Smyth, Ireland correspondent
Ireland has decided to hold a referendum to change its constitution to recognise gay marriage, marking the latest step in the transformation of one of Europe’s most Catholic countries into, arguably, one of its most socially liberal. Just nine European countries (most recently France) recognise gay marriage and opinion polls suggest a majority of Irish people support introducing it.
“The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, it’s time has come,” Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, said at last years Gay Pride festival in Dublin.
The centre left Labour party has prioritised the issue of gay marriage while the socially conservative Fine Gael party do not want to be rushed on an issue, which could alienate rural supporters. Read more