Turning to the constitution, the key issue is the referendum. Isn't it the case that he won't restore trust in politics unless he keeps his promise to hold one? Labour MPs put the commitment to a referendum in their election addresses. Trade unionists voted for it in the TUC. Every opinion poll shows it's what people want. This issue isn't going to go away.Obviously the momentum for a referendum will build in the New Year. Can Gordon Brown hold out? Or will he to cave in to the demands for a referendum - A referendum he surely knows he will lose.
In trying to justify breaking his promise, the Prime Minister says this Treaty is not the Constitution. Doesn't he understand this simply won't wash?
The German Chancellor, the Irish Prime Minister, and the Spanish Foreign Minister all completely undermine what the Prime Minister says by saying the Treaty is pretty much the same as the Constitution. And the author of the constitution, Giscard D'Estaing, said last month that the Constitution's "essential points…. re-appear word for word in the new project. Not a comma has changed" The Prime Minister's argument has simply collapsed.
Doesn't he see that this sort of approach makes him look shifty and untrustworthy? Doesn't he see that, far from it getting him out of his troubles, denying people a referendum is just digging him in deeper? This Treaty obviously is the constitution. It contains an EU President, a Foreign Minister and an EU diplomatic service. It gets rid of the veto in 60 areas. And it contains a new ratchet clause which allows even more vetoes to be scrapped without a new inter-governmental conference.
When I put that point to him in October, he claimed the measure was already there in the Single European Act. It wasn't. The new clause, for the first time, allows virtually any veto to be scrapped in almost any area. That measure was not in the Single European Act or in any treaty before this one. Once again, he's treating people like fools.
So the Prime Minister hasn't been straight about the constitution. And that was only made worse by his frankly bizarre performance in Lisbon last week. Was he going to go, or not? Was he going to sign the Treaty, or not? Were the cameras going to record it, or not? He couldn't summon up the courage to decide.
Isn't this all of a pattern for this Prime Minister? We get troop withdrawals that have already happened. The election that never was. And now the signing ceremony that wouldn't take place. Not a word in the statement about actually signing the Treaty. I expect Macavity hopes we've forgotten all about it. Didn't the senior diplomat get it right when he said of the Prime Minister's "dithering": "he's ended up with the worst of all worlds… If he wants to send a Euro-signal that he's indecisive, he's just sent it"
And as for the Foreign Secretary, in all the centuries of British Foreign Secretaries, representing this country overseas, has there ever been a more ludicrous moment than the Foreign Secretary so isolated and alone that the only person to turn up and shake his hand was the usher who'd handed him the pen?
Isn't it the case that European leaders now see the Prime Minister in the same light as the British people, not as the strong leader he posed as in July, but as the Prime Minister he has turned out to be: weak, dithering - second rate would be a bonus with this Prime Minister - and not straight with people?
Doesn't he recognise that the best chance he has to redeem himself is to give people the referendum they were promised?"
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
David Cameron's Response to Gordon Brown's Statement on the EU Treaty.
I'm a bit late with this as it was posted on the Conservative Website yesterday. However I do think it's worth reading if you didn't catch it earlier: