Law and Human Rights
At last....Downing Street finally admits EU
treaty is just a rehash of scrapped constitution
Article from Daily Mail by IAN DRURY - 9th October 2007
David Milliband: Backing 'red lines' to fend off EU domination Downing
Street finally admitted last night that the new EU treaty was 'substantially'
the same as the scrapped constitution.
Gordon Brown has so far rejected demands for a vote on the treaty,
claiming it was different to its predecessor.
But in an extraordinary U-turn, No10 conceded for the first time
that the two documents are virtually identical.
The Prime Minister's spokesman explained the admission by saying
that for countries who had not secured special deals the treaty
was 'substantially equivalent' to the constitution.
He insisted Britain was different because ministers had negotiated
to protect key 'red lines' on crime and justice, human and social
rights, foreign policy and taxes.
Mr Brown has repeatedly claimed the 'constitutional concept' had
been abandoned and has resisted calls for a vote claiming the treaty
was 'substantially different' to the constitution.
But MPs and campaigners said No 10's confession proved the public
should be given a vote as promised in Labour's manifesto.
Downing Street's comments came in the wake of a report by the Commons
European Scrutiny Committee which said the treaty was 'substantially
equivalent' to the constitution, thrown out by French and Dutch
voters in 2005.
In a line-by-line study, it found only two of 440 provisions were
different - on symbols, including a flag, and an anthem.
It also warned the red lines were worthless because the Government
had no legal protection in the treaty preventing it being forced
to surrender key powers to Brussels 'bit by bit'.
Asked whether the treaty 'substantially had the aspects of a constitution'
for countries which did not have Britain's opt-outs, No10's spokesman
replied: "It does."
But he added: "The treaty that applies to other countries does
not apply to the UK."
Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Europe Minister Jim Murphy
were sticking by that line last night.
But committee chairman Michael Connarty said the treaty would give
the European Court of Justice more power to ignore Britain's opt-outs.
He went on: "The red lines will not be sustainable. We believe
these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually the UK will be
in a position where all of the treaty will eventually apply.
"If they can't get these things firmed up, we think they will
leak like a sieve.
"The Government has got to redraft it in a way that we in the
UK are happy that these red lines will not be broken down over the
Neil O'Brien, of the Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, said the
warning was a 'big turning point', adding: "The Government's
case against the referendum is unravelling. The red lines will not
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said Mr Brown's failure to
hold a general election meant he had 'no mandate' to sign the treaty.
Mr Murphy insisted the opt-outs were 'watertight legally' and dismissed
the finding that the treaty and the Constitution were largely the
On Monday, Mr Brown promised to hold a referendum if Britain's safeguards
failed, saying: "If our red lines are not achieved, we will
either veto it or say there has to be a referendum."