Brown rules out EU referendum as opponents begin 3-month battle to block treaty

BENEDICT BROGAN
UK Daily Mail
Friday December 14, 2007

Gordon Brown ruled out a referendum on the new EU treaty today as critics warned he faces a three-month fight to get it through the Commons.

Battle lines were being drawn in Parliament as he flew back to Europe to make a plea for "no more treaties" while he is Prime Minister.

Mr Brown was embroiled in yet another summit, this time with the leaders gathering in Brussels to map out a new agenda for the future.

He aimed to push through a declaration by the European Union on policies to confront the issues thrown up by globalisation - including strong commitments to free trade and deregulation.

A detailed discussion paper from Mr Brown to the other 26 leaders set out a strongly pro-market manifesto for Europe.

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The news comes after Mr Brown came under fire in Britain last night after he turned up late for a solo signing of the treaty hailed hours earlier by all his EU colleagues as a "vision of the future".

Sitting alone in a deserted hall, he put his name to a document that gives up Britain's veto in more than 60 areas and gives the EU the trappings of statehood.

His signature was the last to be added because all 26 other leaders and their foreign ministers had signed up in a lavish midday ceremony at which Foreign Secretary David Miliband flew the flag for Britain.

The Prime Minister took the shine off an occasion Brussels had planned as a showcase for a united Europe.

In Britain, his absence was seen as an attempt to cover his embarrassment at his failure to hold a referendum on the treaty, which is widely viewed as almost identical to the European Constitution on which the Government had pledged to hold a vote.

And in Brussels, his decision to skip the main event provoked a torrent of criticism, with diplomats warning he had left Britain looking petty and marginalised.

Full article here.

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