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At times like these, we all need good neighbours

If your neighbour has fallen on hard times, it's an understandable but still laudable urge to want to help. Chancellor George Osborne yesterday said he was ready to step in and help out Ireland stabilise its banking system.

"Ireland is our closest neighbour and it's in Britain's national interest that the Irish economy is successful and we have a stable banking system.

"So Britain stands ready to support Ireland in the steps that it needs to take to bring about that stability."

Mark Hoban, the financial secretary to the Treasury, echoed that measure in a speech to the Commons. "We stand ready to help Ireland with the steps it needs to take."

But MP Douglas Carswell took the neighbourly approach to another level. There was stern advice when he urged: "Rather than bailing out the euro, we should be helping Ireland to bail out of the euro."