Asked for a reaction to President Chirac’s comment today that EU members should ratify the Constitution within two years of it being agreed or face a decision on their status within the EU, the PMOS said that that was the first he had heard of the proposal. As he had said this morning, if the Treaty was agreed this summer, we would go into the referendum to win it. However, if there was a no vote, it should be understood that we would be entering into unknown territory. In answer to further questions about President Chirac’s remarks, the PMOS said that the comment clearly illustrated the difficult circumstances we would be facing were there to be a no vote.
Asked again about Valery Giscard D’Estaing’s comment this morning that the UK would not be kicked out of Europe if there was a no vote in the referendum, the PMOS said that M. Giscard D’Estaing was entitled to his view as a former Chairman of the Convention on the Future of Europe which, it should be noted, was no longer in existence. However, the Government believed that it was not in this country’s interest to be on the margins of Europe. We should be at the centre, not least because the new accession states who were joining the EU this weekend had an outlook on Europe which was very close to our own: they were in favour of European co-operation – but co-operation as individual member states. Put to him that M. Giscard D’Estaing appeared to be sounding a little more ‘emollient’ than President Chirac, the PMOS said that one of the first things he had learned as a political journalist in a former life was not to get between two leading politicians, let alone a serving French President and an ex-French President. That was a principle he intended to stand by.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
Original PMOS briefings are © Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland. Click-use licence number C02W0004089. Material is reproduced from the original 10 Downing Street source, but may not be the most up-to-date version of the briefings, which might be revised at the original source. Users should check with the original source in case of revisions. Comments are © Copyright contributors. Everything else is © Copyright Downing Street Says.
Contact Sam Smith.