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From: Christina Speight
Date: 2007/08/20 Mon AM 10:56:39 BST
Subject: Pressure on Brown grows
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It would seem that there is growing pressure on Brown to concede a referendum. That pressure comes from all quarters (well almost all - the EUReferendum blog is more concerned with nit-picking detail, proving itself cleverer than anyone else and rubbishing the excellent Open Europe and any journalist daring to raise the subject)
As the papers have spotted the great advance in this poll is that it investigates likely voting effects if Brown does not concede a referendum.
My reading of this is that it makes an early election less likely with a scenario of initialling the final Constitution (?treaty?) draft in October and ratification through parliament by Easter early summer 2008. This way, no referendum and everything signed sealed and delivered before a general election .
DAILY MAIL 20.8.07
Labour voters ready to rebel in row over a Euro referendum
By JANE MERRICK
The PM has ordered aides to draw up detailed plans for a general election in October
Almost a quarter of Labour voters could desert Gordon Brown at the ballot box if he refuses to hold a referendum on the EU constitution.
A poll for the Daily Mail also reveals that more than eight out of ten of the wider public want a national vote on the revived Brussels treaty.
More than half say the EU already has too much power over our lives.
But the most alarming finding for the Prime Minister, is 24 per cent of Labour supporters would be less likely to vote for him at the next General Election if they are denied a referendum.
Some 13 per cent of Labour voters would even consider switching to the Tories if David Cameron promised a referendum, the ICM poll reveals.
The row over the new EU treaty is emerging as one of the key flashpoints in a possible snap election this autumn. A rebellion by one in four of the 9.5million who voted Labour in 2005 could cost Mr Brown victory.
A backlash against the Government on the new constitution has grown
since June, when Tony Blair struck a deal with European leaders as one of his final acts as PM.
In Labour's 2005 election manifesto, Mr Blair promised a referendum on the original EU constitution. But it was rejected by French and Dutch voters later that year, removing the need for a UK vote.
The Government is now refusing to put the new treaty to the British people, claiming it does not involve the same transfer of powers to Brussels as the old draft. EU experts, however, say the two documents are nearly identical, so the British people should have their say.
The Daily Mail's poll reveals that 82 per cent of all voters and 80 per cent of Labour supporters want a referendum.
The figures reflect growing concern within the Labour party.
Up to 40 Labour MPs are said to be considering mounting a backbench campaign for a referendum. They include Gisela Stuart, one of the EU group which drafted the original constitution.
Labour-supporting trade unions are adding to the pressure on Mr Brown. The GMB has called for a referendum and the Transport and General Workers
Union has come out against the treaty.
The row could be a major issue at the TUC conference next month.
Opponents claim the treaty will mean a major handover of British rights and powers to Brussels, including in areas such as transport, energy and immigration.
Research by the Tories and the Open Europe think-tank shows that, apart from the removal of presentational measures like an EU flag and anthem, the new treaty is fundamentally the same as the old one.
Surviving measures include the creation of an EU president, an EU foreign minister with a diplomatic service and a "single legal personality" which would allow the EU to sign treaties. There would be beefed-up powers for the European Commission, Court of Justice and European Parliament.
The Irish government has said that 90 per cent of the old constitution is in the new treaty, while the Spanish government claims it is 98 per cent similar.
The Foreign Office insists that the UK has key 'red lines' where it could opt out of majority decisions.
But the Tories say these are exactly the same as in the rejected 2005 constitution - which merited a referendum.
Tory spokesman Mark Francois said last night: "This important poll reveals that even traditional Labour supporters are now becoming angry at Gordon Brown's refusal to grant a referendum.
"This revelation will further increase pressure on Brown to honour the Labour manifesto commitment and give our people the vote they were promised all along."
EU OBSERVER 20.8.07
Brown under pressure over EU treaty
By Honor Mahony
UK prime minister Gordon Brown could lose up to a quarter of voters from his own labour party if he does not put the new EU treaty to a popular vote, a new survey has suggested.
The ICM poll for the Daily Mail said that 24 percent of labour supporters may not support Mr Brown in general elections if he does not take the referendum path for the EU Reform Treaty, set to be finalised by the end of the year.
The poll also showed that 82 percent of voters as whole - and 80 percent of labour voters - want a referendum on whether to accept the treaty or not.
The EU treaty issue has barely left the news pages in the UK since its outline was agreed by EU leaders in June.
The outline maintains many of the features of the original EU constitution, rejected by the French and the Dutch in 2005.
The labour government under Tony Blair had promised to have a referendum on the old constitution but now argues that the revised treaty is sufficiently different and that Britain secured enough opt-outs - including in the justice areas and a human rights charter - to make this step unnecessary.
But the opposition Conservatives have mounted a strong campaign to get a referendum arguing the new treaty is very similar to the rejected constitution.
The ICM poll, which questioned 1,004 people in mid August, comes at crucial time for Mr Brown with British media speculating whether he will call early general elections to take advantage of his popularity ratings since taking over from Mr Blair in late June.
The rest of the EU is also carefully watching the UK on this issue. So far, only Ireland has said it will hold a referendum on the new European treaty.
But a British referendum ? aside from the high chances of a No vote ? would also put pressure on other countries to take a similar path.
This is exactly what politicians in other member states were hoping to avoid.
Informal talks in Portugal
German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok, who is representing the European Parliament in the current negotiations to finalise the EU treaty, warned Britain against a referendum.
"Gordon Brown's government has said there is no justification for a referendum and the UK should stick to this commitment," said Mr Brok, according to the Daily Telegraph.
"It would be very unfair of the UK if, having more or less got what it wanted in the new treaty, it would then turn round and put this to a popular vote," he added, saying it would "undermine" the talks on the treaty.
The talks, taking place at a technical level, will take off once again next week after the summer recess.
The experts are expecting to have made the first legal sweep of the text by the first week of September.
The treaty issue is set to move from the technical back to the political stage on 7 September when EU foreign ministers are expected to tackle the topic at informal talks in Portugal.
TELEGRAPH 20.8.07 - EXTRACT
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But yesterday, a German politician fired a warning shot at moves to hold a vote.
Elmar Brok, a centre-Right MEP and close ally of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, effectively told Britain to sign up to the treaty or consider pulling out of the EU.
He insisted that the new draft was substantially different from the "old" constitution and that Britain had "got what it wanted" with a series of opt-outs and "red lines".
"Gordon Brown's government has said there is no justification for a referendum and the UK should stick to this commitment," said Mr Brok, the European parliament's representative on inter-governmental negotiations on the treaty. "It would be very unfair of the UK if, having more or less got what it wanted in the new treaty, it would then turn round and put this to a popular vote."
Brok, a member of the European convention that drafted the old constitution, asked: "The UK got its various opt-outs so what's the problem?
"How would it seem to other EU member states if Britain were now to hold a referendum?
"For me, that would undermine the negotiations on the treaty and even go as far as to question Britain's credibility as an EU member.
"Britain is a valued member of the EU but we should perhaps remember that the treaty contains an article which gives any member state the right to leave the EU if it so wishes."
Those campaigning for a British referendum were motivated "solely" by their opposition to the EU, he claimed.
Brok, who was chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee, said there was "no reason to renegotiate something you agreed on".
Martin Callanan, a senior Conservative MEP, said Mr Brok should "mind his own business" and allow Britain to decide how it wishes to determine the treaty's ratification.