Blair backtracks over EU referendum

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Blair backtracks over EU referendumPDFPrintE-mail
Europe
Written by Chris Perver  
Thursday, 19 April 2007 17:00
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced that a revived EU Constitution would not require a referendum. EU ministers are expected to press for existing EU treaties to be "amended", and that since Europe's relationship with member states will not be changing, the public do not need to give their consent to the deal.

Quote: "Asked whether the treaty he had in mind would need a referendum, he said: "No. If it's not a constitutional treaty, so that it alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, then there isn't the same case for a referendum." The Financial Times said Blair expected to agree "the basic outline agreement for a treaty" at the EU summit on June 21-22. Breaking the logjam over the European constitution would be Blair's final act on the European stage before he bows out after a decade in power in Britain, the newspaper said. "Sort it out, then move on," Blair told the newspapers.

But even before France and the Netherlands rejected the original European Constitution, the Prime Minister didn't intend to hold a referendum. The Labour government only consented to the idea of a referendum after pressure from the opposition parties, and even then, the referendum they agreed to was not legally binding. The British government could have written the Constitution into UK law, even if a majority of people were against it - if they could make the case for it of course. Before the EU Constitution was rejected, all sorts of reasons were given by politicians to get the people to support it - it couldn't be rewritten, it would spell disaster for the economy, France would cease to exist politically, etc. But the people did reject it, because they don't want an EU super-state. Well I think the EU elite have realized they made a big mistake - they asked the public what they thought. This time around, they will try to get the Constitution adopted by stealth. Blair claims the new treaty will not change Europe's relationship with member states, but the appointment of an EU Foreign Minister will have a significant affect on British foreign policy. Imagine if the UK was forced to toe the line with other EU states that don't have such a favourable view of Israel? Or if Iran attempts to wipe the Jewish nation off the map, will Javier Solana (who is slated to fill the role of EU Foreign Minister) forbid the UK from going to war?

Source Reuters

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