Britains leader of the opposition calls for referendum on EU constitution


Mr Cameron warned that voting for the minor parties would be “letting the Government off the hook” over the issue of a referendum on the European constitution.

“In terms of rebuilding trust, I think this issue of when you make a promise, sticking to that promise, like the promise we have all made about having a referendum on the constitution, is as important as anything else,” he told GMTV.

He said he was publishing a Bill today which would allow for a referendum to be passed through Parliament with a vote on the same day in the autumn as the Irish.

The Conservative Bill would require the support of substantial numbers of Labour rebels to get through the House of Commons, and is thought extremely unlikely to succeed.

But Mr Cameron said that Thursday’s elections to the European Parliament gave voters a chance to put pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to grant a referendum by voting Conservative.

Britain ratified the Treaty by a parliamentary vote in June last year, but it cannot come into force until all 27 member states have ratified. As well as the hurdle of the Irish referendum this autumn, the Treaty must also gain the assent of the Czech President and Poland must deposit its documents confirming ratification.

Mr Cameron has promised a referendum in the UK if the ratification process has not been completed across the Union by the time a Conservative administration comes to power, but today he declined to say what he would do if ratification is complete and the Treaty is in effect by that time.

The Tory leader has said that he “would not let matters rest” in that case, leading Labour to claim that he would attempt to renegotiate the agreement in the face of opposition from all the other EU states, potentially miring Britain in years of constitutional wrangling.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Cameron resisted several requests to spell out exactly what his plans were, but indicated that he may seek to use a forthcoming renegotiation of the EU’s budget to seek reforms to bring powers back from Brussels to Westminster.

“I don’t want to go into every last detail of what happens if a series of things happen – if there isn’t an early election, if the Irish vote yes in a second referendum, if the Poles decide to ratify this treaty, if the Czechs decide to ratify,” said Mr Cameron.

“I know that, of course, my opponents would love me to focus on what happens if all these things happen, but I am not going to do that. I am going to focus on the here and now, because on Thursday people can go into these voting booths, vote Conservative and pile pressure on Gordon Brown to hold a referendum. I don’t want to let him off the hook.”

He added: “Every treaty is an effective renegotiation and if we had a Conservative government we would be going into that renegotiation with a list of powers we want returned to the UK, because we believe in being members of the EU but we want it to be more about trade and co-operation rather than this endless process of building a superstate…

“There’s an important negotiation coming up on the future funding of the EU and I don’t want to see us increasing the funding at all, but it gives us enormous leverage in terms of making sure we get a good deal for Britain and we build the sort of EU that not just the Conservatives but other parties in Europe want to see.”

Mr Cameron said he could not foresee circumstances in which he would want to call a referendum on Britain remaining in the EU, adding: “If I thought that being a member of the EU was against the national interest, I would argue for us to come out, but I don’t.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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One Response

  1. We don’t know enough about the EU or the proposed constitution to have a referendum. The media aren’t responsible enough to hold a proper debate and the public aren’t interested in reading up on the subect objectively. Leave it for the elected representatives to decide.

    http://shanecroucher.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/referendum-eu-dont-know-enough-about-it/

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