Sunday, June 24, 2007

You Can Fool Some . . . .

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown insist that a referendum is unnecessary. Others are call the new EU constitution treaty a sham and are demanding that a referendum be held.
Gordon Brown was under growing pressure last night to hold a referendum on the new EU treaty.

Calls for a vote intensified after Ireland promised to give its people a say.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern admitted the new treaty reproduced 90 per cent of the EU constitution rejected in 2005. Major constitutional changes are traditionally put to the vote in the Republic.

Tories seized on his remarks to step up demands for a vote on the deal struck by Tony Blair as one of his last acts as Prime Minister.

Their warnings that huge areas of sovereignty were being surrendered set the scene for the first big battle with a Brown Government.

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said Ireland's announcement heightened the injustice to British voters.

He said: "It is now getting clearer and clearer that this is basically the constitution by another name.
Good thing you got that figured out so soon, genius.
"Large amounts of power have been transferred to Brussels and the Government has failed to safeguard Britain's interests.

"People in Britain will want to know, when Irish voters will decide for themselves, why Gordon Brown thinks British people do not have the right to have their say."

In its 2005 election manifesto, Labour promised a referendum on the planned constitution, drawn up the previous year. But the need for a poll disappeared when French and Dutch voters defeated the idea.

Mr Brown promised yesterday to listen to debate on the new treaty - agreed by EU leaders at 5am on Saturday after fraught negotiations - though he said he could see no reason for a vote.

Critics said it was increasingly clear Mr Blair had boxed in his successor by signing an agreement that would implement-almost all the controversial-constitution.

The Chancellor stepped in during the negotiations to insist that Mr Blair stopped France watering down the EU's commitment to free trade.

Graphic/The Daily Mail

But analysts said the treaty would undermine Britain's control over its foreign policy. Europe will get its own president, foreign minister and diplomatic service.

Both Mr Blair and Mr Brown insisted Britain's "red lines" were not crossed as the UK won an amendment making it clear the EU's ambitions to develop its own common foreign and security policy would not encroach on the interests of member states.

But critics said the "declaration", added to the footnotes of the treaty, would have no legal force.

Mr Blair also gave up Britain's veto in more than 40 areas, including migration, tourism, transport and energy.

But Mr Brown congratulated him on Sunday, saying his negotiating skills had done what the UK set out to do.

He insisted: "We have met our negotiating position."

The Chancellor also said he did not believe the public would see the need for a vote, as the deal was simply an "amending treaty" rather than a new EU constitution.
And if the Brits rise up with pitchforks proving they're not as stupid as you claim they are?.
He pointed out when the Tories were in power they had not seen the need for a referendum on the 1991 Maastricht treaty, which turned the European Community into the EU and paved the way for the creation of the euro.

But in Ireland, Mr Ahern said: "Given the fact that there was strong legal advice that the draft constitution in 2004 would require a referendum in Ireland, and given the fact that these changes haven't made any dramatic change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004, I think it is likely that a referendum will be held.

"Ireland over the years has tended to err on the side of caution in relation to this because ultimately it is the people who should decide."

The Irish government was planning a referendum in 2005 but stopped its preparations after France and the Netherlands voted "no".

Both Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke backed Mr Brown's insistence there was no need for a referendum.

Mrs Beckett said Britain was not a country which governs by referendum.

She said: "People buy into the notion that somehow some massive change has taken place. This is not a massive change."

Mr Clarke admitted: "The nuts and bolts are obviously quite essential" but added: "What we have now is far less important than Maastricht. I think the idea we have a referendum is frankly absurd."

He went on: "Some of the Eurosceptics will have demanded a referendum just about the date on the top of the piece of paper, but they are flogging a dead horse."
And others may decide, sir, that you're frankly absurd. Time will tell.

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