Home > British judge asks government to delay EU treaty ratification

British judge asks government to delay EU treaty ratification

by Open-Publishing - Friday 20 June 2008

UK European Constitution referendum

British judge asks government to delay EU treaty ratification

The Associated Press

Friday, June 20, 2008

LONDON: The British government agreed Friday to a judge’s request to delay ratification of the European Union’s reform treaty until he has ruled on a lawsuit seeking to force a referendum.

Lord Justice Stephen Richards had said he was surprised that the government was pressing ahead with ratification before he ruled on a suit brought by millionaire Stuart Wheeler, and Richards asked the government to pause until there is a ruling next week.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced in Brussels that the government would hold back.

"The judgment fits into our own timetable, so ratification will not take place until we have had the judgment from the judge," Brown told reporters.

Both houses of Parliament have authorized the treaty, making Britain the 19th EU state to approve it, but the process is technically not complete until instruments of ratification are deposited in Rome.

That has to be done by the end of the year, and Wheeler argues that leaves time for the courts to rule on his attempt to get a full hearing challenging the government’s decision not to hold a referendum.

Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum last week. On Friday, the EU agreed that its member states should continue ratifying the treaty, and delayed until October decisions on how to overcome the document’s rejection in Ireland, diplomats said.