Flying the European Union Jack. (Image: Presseurop)

Calling the sovereignty bluff

Opponents of Lisbon have long claimed that the treaty sounds the death knell of national government. But when it comes to issues like finance, banking and public services, sovereignty doesn’t get much of a look-in from the apparently euroreluctant Tories, argues Seumas Milne in the Guardian.

Published on 6 November 2009 at 12:09
Flying the European Union Jack. (Image: Presseurop)

So now we know what a "cast iron guarantee" from David Cameron is worth. The Tory leader's abandonment of his pledge to hold a referendum on "any EU treaty" that emerged from the Lisbon negotiations will surely come to bear out William Hague's private warning that Europe is his "ticking time bomb". He can't even resort to the government's fig-leaf defence that its own referendum promise was only for the Lisbon treaty's first incarnation as a European constitution.

Whenever Europeans have been given a chance to vote on this entrenchment of unaccountable power and corporate privilege, they have rejected it – or, in the case of Ireland, been made to carry on voting until they get the answer right. Once again, in a tradition stretching back decades, the European elites have swatted away the public and imposed their own favoured order. If it hadn't been for their backroom haggling, there was until the last few days the grotesque prospect of the co-architect of the Iraq catastrophe being foisted on Europe as its unelected president.

Now Lisbon has been ratified, Cameron today sought to wipe the memory of his ditched guarantee with a new promise of a prolonged struggle to wrest back the liberties of true-born Englishmen, repatriate social, employment and justice powers from Brussels, and legislate to require a referendum in Britain on any future constitutional change cooked up in Europe. Read full article in the Guardian...

United Kingdom

Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday

Britain needs a "deep cleansing" referendum

Now that the Lisbon treaty has been fully ratified, Tory leader David Cameron, most likely to succeed Gordon Brown as British PM in 2010, has been forced to renounce an earlier pledge to hold a UK referendum on the controversial document. Such embarassing back-pedalling manoeuvres have not been without consequences, triggering the resignation of two Conservative MEPs. Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, one such MEP, Dan Hannan, outlines his reasons for breaking ranks. The Lisbon treaty, he argues, threatens “the legitimacy of our representative institutions”. “Out of 646 MPs in Westminster,” he reminds readers “638 were elected on the promise of a referendum... on whether we, as a country, participate in its provisions.” Taking up the rallying cry of the leader of the party he has abandoned, Mr Hannan pleads for a “full-on Helvetic peope power” of “referendums, citizens’ initiatives and the rest of the paraphernalia of direct democracy.” One on Europe, he concludes, will be “deep-cleansing” and will at last “settle whether our country remains subordinate, or becomes self-governing.”


Was this article useful? If so we are delighted!

It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans.

Discover our subscription offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic