Ever since Gordon Brown reiterated his predecessor’s refusal to hold a referendum, it seemed as though the British were ready to bend over and let the EU have its way with them.
But the latest news from Albion indicates that the Lisbon Treaty may not face the smooth sailing that Mr. Brown and the rest of the Euro-enthusiasts had hoped for.
From today’s EU Observer:
Brown faces backbench revolt over EU treaty
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is facing a significant backbench revolt as the bill ratifying the EU’s Lisbon Treaty begins its House of Commons second reading today (21 January).
At this legislative stage — the first parliamentary vote on the treaty — it is unlikely that the bill will be voted down.
While most Conservatives are set to vote with the Labour rebels, the leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats, although supporting a referendum on the treaty, has said his party will abstain.
Nonetheless, the leader of the Labour rebels, Ian Davidson, warned that opposition is expected to grow as the bill progresses through parliament.
The eurosceptic Mr Davidson said that frustration has grown within the governing Labour Party since it became clear that former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who negotiated the treaty shortly before leaving office, has ambitions to be appointed EU president, a new post created by the treaty.
The vote may also feature an amendment, backed by 18 of the rebels, calling for a referendum.
An interesting aspect to this story is that an official organ of the government has recognized what everybody already knows: the “treaty” is the just the same old EU Constitution tied up in a new pink bow:
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The development comes a day after the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued its opinion on the matter, concluding that the was “no material difference” between the EU treaty and foreign policy elements of the original EU constitution.
The EU constitution was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 prompting a rethink by the European Union eventually resulting in the Lisbon Treaty, which contains most of the constitution’s elements.
The Labour government under Mr Blair had indicated it would have a referendum on constitution but Mr Brown has said there is no need for public poll on the new treaty as Britain’s ‘red lines’ have been defended.
I’m not sure what “red lines” are left to defend. Britain’s national sovereignty seems to have all but vanished, and the relentless erosion caused by PC and Multiculturalism has reduced traditional British institutions to a haunted ruin.
Despite everything, the fight hasn’t gone out of all Britain’s subjects. The prime minister has denied them a full referendum, but the treaty’s opponents are working on a scheme to stage the vote piecemeal:
Meanwhile, the UK government’s Europe minister, Jim Murphy, is facing an extra-parliamentary ‘mini-referendum’ in his own East Renfrewshire constituency organised by the cross-party eurosceptic group I Want A Referendum (IWR).
The group is set to hold the poll, which will cost IWR £30,000 (c. €40,000) to stage, some time in February.
It has commissioned Electoral Reform Services to run referenda in East Renfrewshire and nine other UK marginal constituencies as part of a rolling campaign aiming to embarrass the government into holding a full nationwide referendum on the treaty.
Labour MP Gisela Stuart said: “We made a very clear promise of a referendum at the last election. No one really believes for a second that this is a ‘fundamentally different document’. We must keep our promise.
“These referenda will give people the chance to have the vote that the Government is trying to take away from them. Gordon Brown must listen.”
Mind you: this is the Labour Party that is defying its own leaders and staging a revolt.
These are significant events. Stay tuned.
Hat tip: Henrik of Europe News.