Robert and the EU treaty

  My MEP Robert Sturdy has a letter in today’s Times challenging the reasons for Tony Blair’s refusal to hold a referendum over the EU treaty. With Gordon Brown widely predicted to be Blair’s successor, I wonder if  Blair wants to push this through quickly as he knows  Brown has a much cooler approach to Europe – and we don’t even know what it says.

Maybe Brown will hope other countries will vote against it again like the previous draft EU constitution, and thereby make decisions about this easier for him. This is Robert’s letter:

Tony Blair seems determined to force a new European Union treaty on us without holding a referendum, knowing it will lack public support (report, April 20). We are surely entitled to know the wording of this new so-called treaty and the framework it is modelled on after the collapse of the previous draft constitution in 2005.

Bearing in mind Gordon Brown’s cooler approach to Europe, I wonder if Mr Blair wants to push this treaty through quickly so he can secure his European legacy by agreeing to a new treaty which will, in his eyes, help to reform the EU, while leaving his predicted successor to unravel the problems it creates. Mr Brown may have a different agenda on this, but his hands would be tied if an agreement had been reached.

I agree that reform is needed, but with the focus on good governance, less regulation and greater inter-governmental cooperation. By disregarding the democratic rights of the British people, in pursuit of his own political agenda, Mr Blair is doing nothing to reduce the growing public apathy towards politics.

What are your views about a referendum, and how do you think Gordon will deal with the treaty and Europe?


  1. Thank you for your comments and responses to my letter I will now address them.

    I say no to a constitution – it is obvious from recent polls that the British people do not want this and I agree that the reason Mr. Blair does not call a referendum is because he knows that it would be voted down.

    I take your point that EU documents are quite often difficult to read and understand; however, no matter how complex a document is, people should have the opportunity to view a document which will apply to them.

    It is a good idea to simplify the EU and make its rhetoric easier to understand – it is also important to establish the powers of the EU. This Treaty must not be used as an opportunity for the EU to force itself into new areas of importance. It should be used to re-affirm the power of Member States on certain issues and to re-state the importance of subsidiarity and National identity.

    I agree that this is not the only reason for public apathy. It is true that people are angry that the issue of a constitution has raised its ugly head again. The reason people are angry is that they are being ignored. The vast majority of the electorate do not want an EU constitution.

    Public apathy towards politicians and the political system stems from all areas of society and blame cannot be pinpointed on one party or one individual. What is the point in voting if your elected official does not voice your concerns – after all they are there to represent you! The only way to reduce public apathy is to increase and improve public engagement in politics. I don’t think that it is necessary to have a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot paper – what we need to do is educate people about what politics is and how it affects everyday life.

    Although I agree it would not be practical or an appropriate use of resources to hold a referendum on every European issue the constitution, in whatever format it may find itself, will have direct impact on the constitutional framework of the UK. It affects us all.

    As to the necessity of a UK constitution, in an ever changing globalised world can a single document really account and represent without hindering our development and stifling future Governments? In the UK we have an unwritten Bill of Rights. The basic doctrines of our legal and political systems are set down through traditions which date back centuries but there is freedom for this dogma to be adapted to relate to the changing times without experiencing the difficulties of countries such as the USA where binding Constitutions have to be forced to apply to the 21st Century.

    We should be proud of the political system which we have in the UK. The EU has a lot to offer us through trade and the free movement of goods, people and services which increase economic development and encourage entrepreneurial activities. We should be in Europe but not ruled by Europe – only then can we make the most of the relationship.

  2. Vote online about the future of Europe at One liner: “human development in its richest diversity” (W von Humboldt/J S Mill)

  3. electro-kevin

    Oh how I envy the French with their sexy railways, real choice in political candidates, their leader’s trust in their people to make a grown up decision on the draft constitution in 2005.

    Though I value Mr Sturdy’s contribution to The Times letters page I would like to point out a couple of things to him:

    – ‘Mr Blair is doing nothing to reduce the growing public apathy towards politics …’ I think that to describe this as public apathy is wrong, people are quite angry about British politics and ‘none of the above’ as a protest option on voting slips would restore voter turnouts. British politics has been made monochrome, in my humble opinion, for obviously sinister reasons.

    – ‘We are entitled to know the wording of the new treaty’ Well EU documentation is quite often designed to be esoteric and soporific, so would we really be any better for knowing its wording ?

    – With regard to an earlier posting by Mr Sturdy about the EU where he commented that open borders had meant no shortages of plumbers – great, what can my averagely educated boys expect to do for a living when they grow up ? EU membership obviously means very different things to different classes of people.

    To Quasar9 (hello):
    I fear for our country, not because of the forces without but because of those within – the repeated and deliberate adherence and misinterpretation of EU directives to the detriment of our National identity. In fact this no longer feels like a country at all and, as we are in totally uncharted territory, I am surprised at your acceptance and apparent optimism.

  4. We can’t have a referendum on every European treaty we sign

    We DO NOT WANT a European constitution

    But with the damage that TB has wreaked to our own constitutional checks and balances, I’m afraid we may need our own constitution and bill of rights. If we do, I would rather go down the route of the concise and beautifully written American constitution than the wordy weighty and worthless European version

  5. Newmania

    1. See my post above

    2. Join UKIP

  6. Blair doesn’t want a referendum because he knows he would lose it. It’s as simple as that; his fatuous reasons are just a smokescreen.

  7. Elle, Would there be any difference between an
    EU Treaty and the UK Treaty
    which still confers power to London over affairs in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland.

    Was (IS) the UK a bad thing?
    I can only assume the EU Treaty would offer as many problems (and advantages) as the concept of a UK government did, except if it is agreed, it will not be imposed on people by any military rule or power – but by an imperfect ‘democratic’ vote.

    Newmania, do we really have much say in anything?
    Do we have much say in how the NHS is run?
    will we have anymore say on how a Foundation Trust or ‘privatised’ hospital is run?
    Do we have much choice in health care other than Hobson’s Choice – Take it or leave it.

    Of course we can vote with our feet – but at the end of the day whether you shop at Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S, Asda, or wherever – at the end of the day your only (freedom of) choice, is to select from what is on offer on the shelf. What someone else has decided is worth their while producing and/or marketing.

  8. we need to know what is in any new treaty.
    Whats the point. We have no say in it ?

  9. Steven_L

    Blair, and most of his cabal, are lawyers, of course they want a constitution. It means they can challenge domestic rulings as ‘unconstitutional’.

  10. Why would anyone be pro EU ? Why should a Pole have almost as much say in the running of my country as I do? We are the worst performing country in the Anglosphere when we should be the best and we latch oursleves onto basket case loon factories like Les Frogs . You cannot be fired in France and guess what 25% unemployment under 25. We are the most open economy inward and outward. We have nothing in common with these jabbering foreigners

    Yes Referendums are un British but then so is war. We are under attack and must defend this country from the new Reich and its cohorts of blood sucking beaurocrats .

    There is an EU standard size condom there actually is . What use is that to a hugely gifted fellow like me eh ? Do you know what the most common line by far in film history is

    ” Lets get the hell out of here !”

    Thats what I think when I think of the scandalous consipracy of the political classes to sell the country out . Better off out

  11. I don’t like referendums. They are un- British. I’m pro-EU but of course we need to know what is in any new treaty.

  12. May I reccommend

    for any serious comment on the current confusion.

  13. Did this new EU treaty, in its final form, appear in the Labour Party manifesto at the last election? I’ve no idea if it did or didn’t, although I suspect it didn’t. If it didn’t then it’s simple – it’s undemocratic

  14. It’s estimated that 78% of Brits would vote ‘No’ on such a referendum and I’m one of the 78%. The EU is iniquitous and is simply the first step [European] on the road to globalization. Our society and nation necessitates that the EU be opposed at every turn.

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