UK Conservative Euroskeptics in plot to force referendum on Lisbon Treaty

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Offline Scootle

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Tory MPs are plotting to force a referendum on the EU's Lisbon Treaty within months, setting up the first test of the coalition Government's uneasy truce on Europe.

Backbencher Douglas Carswell revealed that he and other Eurosceptic Conservatives hope to take advantage of a technical change to the treaty to force a public vote.

The Foreign Office confirmed yesterday that plans for a minor increase in the number of MEPs would require a change in the law in this country.


Douglas Carswell revealed that he and other Eurosceptic Conservatives hope to take advantage of a technical change to the treaty to force a public vote

Mr Carswell said this might provide a chance to revive a Tory pledge to hold a referendum on the controversial treaty which handed a raft of fresh powers to Brussels.

Any move to force a referendum would place huge strain on the relationship between pro-European Liberal Democrats and their largely Eurosceptic Tory coalition partners.

It would also create a headache for David Cameron, who attempted to play down Europe as an issue during the election campaign after dropping his 'cast-iron' pledge to hold a referendum after the treaty was ratified last year.

Mr Cameron claimed then that the treaty was a done deal thanks to Labour, and the British Parliament could not stop it.

But the Prime Minister's coalition agreement with the Lib Dems committed the new government to a 'referendum lock' requiring public approval for any proposed future treaty which transferred new powers to Brussels.

There are already fears that this could force the Tories to hold a referendum on the EU bailout deal for Greece if Germany presses ahead with calls for a treaty change to formalise the arrangements.

Mr Carswell said this gave the party a duty to try to force a referendum if at all possible.

'I've spent my entire adult life listening to politicians and professional diplomats in the Foreign Office telling us that the changes they are making are just tidying-up exercises, merely refining and streamlining the European architecture.

'I don't think this will do. I think the changes that have been made are significant overall. These further changes are about creating more taxpayer-funded Europoliticians. I think we need to put it to the British people.'

The new row stems from an EU move to appoint an extra 18 MEPs to 'rebalance' the European Parliament according to the size of its members. Britain would gain one MEP as a result, while Germany would lose three.

The Foreign Office yesterday confirmed that introducing the new MEPs before the next European elections in 2014 would require a change in the law.

But it said it was a 'technical change' which would not transfer new powers. The issue will be discussed at a meeting of EU leaders next month, although Germany is pressing for it to be delayed until 2014.

Brussels sources insist that a referendum in the UK would make little difference, as it would be unable to reopen the ratification of the wider treaty.

A source said: 'Even if a referendum were held in the UK and it were lost, the only result would be that the UK could not send an extra MEP to Brussels.

'At most it would block the introduction of the 18 until 2014. The treaty itself cannot be revisited now.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1278940/Eurosceptics-plot-force-vote-Lisbon-Treaty.html



Brussels sources insist that a referendum in the UK would make little difference, as it would be unable to reopen the ratification of the wider treaty.

A source said: 'Even if a referendum were held in the UK and it were lost, the only result would be that the UK could not send an extra MEP to Brussels.

'At most it would block the introduction of the 18 until 2014. The treaty itself cannot be revisited now.'


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