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EU treaty should be dropped, say British voters

by Open-Publishing - Wednesday 18 June 2008

Europe UK European Constitution referendum

EU treaty should be dropped, say British voters

By James Kirkup and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

Last updated: 6:52 PM BST 17/06/2008

British voters want Gordon Brown to scrap moves to ratify the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, a new poll has disclosed.

The study piles fresh pressure on the Prime Minister to abandon the treaty in the wake of Ireland’s rejection of it in a referendum last week.

According to a YouGov poll carried out after the Irish result was announced on Friday, 54 per cent of British voters now believe the Government should drop the Lisbon Treaty - which would sweep away dozens of national vetoes - and not try to ratify it.

Only 14 per cent of those questioned agreed that the Government should carry on and ratify the controversial agreement, which would also create a new European president and foreign minister.

The poll was commissioned by Open Europe, a eurosceptic think-tank.

Neil O’Brien of Open Europe said: “Pressing ahead as if nothing has happened looks all wrong. Most of his own voters think that Gordon Brown should now drop the Lisbon Treaty and not try to ratify it.”

The agreement must be ratified by all 27 European Union members before it can take force next year. A Daily Telegraph campaign seeking a UK referendum on the text last year gathered more than 115,000 signatories.

Despite the Irish ’No’ vote, ministers are to try to push the treaty over its last parliamentary hurdle in a House of Lords vote.

Labour whips are confident that the bill ratifying the treaty will be given final approval by the Lords after which, it would normally receive Royal Assent and become law.

However, Bill Cash, the veteran Eurosceptic Tory backbencher, has made a legal attempt to stop the bill being given assent.

At the High Court, Mr Cash made an emergency application for a judicial review of the Government’s actions, arguing that the Irish decision has killed the treaty and rendered any ratification redundant.

He said: “The Treaty can not now be performed because the change of circumstances. Article 29 of the Irish constitution means the referendum result is binding on the Irish government whatever the others do. In those circumstances, the treaty itself must now be abandoned.”

Leading EU members like France and Germany meanwhile, are pushing Ireland to reverse its position. There are growing signs that that could be done in a second referendum early next year.

Dick Roche, Ireland’s Europe Minister, has hinted that his country will seek new guarantees before a second vote, in a rerun of the crisis following an Irish No to the Nice Treaty in 2001.

His comments come as leaked European Commission opinion polling found that “over 70 per cent” of Irish people who voted against the Lisbon Treaty did so because they thought a second, improved, text could be negotiated.

The Brussels research will add to intense Franco-German pressure on Ireland to save the EU Treaty by holding a second vote.

After Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty seven years ago, ratification continued and Dublin was given timeout to come up with additional guarantees before a second referendum secured a Yes vote.

“After the first Nice referendum we carried out an analysis to find out what people are most allergic to,” said Mr Roche.

“That is why we need again a period of reflection to carry out this analysis.”

Story from Telegraph News: