Brown Must Guarantee Referendum As Treaty Debate Heats Up

Gordon Brown must guarantee a UK referendum if more powers are ceded to EU institutions by Tony Blair in the European Council on 21/22 June

Strasbourg, 22nd May 2007 — Europe is sleepwalking into a new constitutional crisis if EU politicians continue to demand more powers without learning from the 2005 ‘no’ votes, warns the Conservative Deputy Leader Sir Robert Atkins MEP.

In the debate on the Future of Europe in the European Parliament today the battle lines between the constitutional die-hards and the reformists were drawn.

Sir Robert said: “The warning bells have begun to ring. A fresh onslaught on British sovereignty is underway and the spotlight is on Gordon Brown. Does he believe, like me, that simplifying and making more transparent decision-making in the institutions of Europe - as the Laeken Declaration envisaged - is the way forward? The enlargement of the EU may indeed, in due course, require some alteration of the existing Treaties. But I cannot accept that this Constitution or a version of it is required, nor is it desirable.”

He added: “There can be no doubt that the British people will deserve a referendum on any new treaty that contains too many constitutional innovations or new powers being granted to the EU. My party will support these demands. Mr Blair will attend the Brussels summit on the very eve of his retirement. He must not commit Gordon Brown to any new constitutional blueprint. Our new Prime Minister should insist that he attends this summit alongside Mr Blair - and takes full responsibility for whatever his government signs up to. We hear that Gordon Brown has ‘red lines’ on Europe. The British people expect him to live up to his previous indication that he is someone who is supposedly unconvinced by the need for more centralisation in Europe.”

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