» Wednesday, May 18, 2005

EU Constitution Referenda

Asked to clarify whether the Government would go ahead with a referendum on the EU constitution if the French and Dutch people voted against it, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that we should not get into hypothetical questions. The Prime Minister has said that there would be a referendum on the EU constitution. The position remained unchanged. He wouldn’t speculate about what happens if countries vote against rather than for, that was up to them. There were campaigns underway and it was a very wise convention that Government’s didn’t intervene in other countries electoral campaigns. Let us see what happened.

Put to him that the Prime Minister had said that you could only have a referendum if there were a constitution to have a referendum on and if that meant that if others didn’t sign up they would have to go back to the drawing board, the PMOS said that sounded like a more sophisticated way of asking the same hypothetical question. It was perfectly legitimate for journalists to try and push the Government to give answers to these questions. However we should wait for the people of France and the Netherlands to vote and see where we were. Put to him that Patricia Hewitt had said that the Government would hit the ground running after the election in terms of a campaign for a "yes" vote, the PMOS said that he thought it was a statement of the blindingly obvious that if there were referendums going on in France and the Netherlands, then we should wait for the results of those because that would establish the context of any campaign. We should wait and see what actually happened and not get ahead of ourselves.

Asked when a referendum might be held, the PMOS said that would be announced at the appropriate time.

Asked if the Prime Minister had had any discussions with other European leaders ahead of the presidency, the PMOS said not at this stage, but obviously over the coming weeks we would be talking to others both about the EU and G8 presidencies. That shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Search for related news

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