» Monday, June 18, 2007

EU Council

Put to the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) that Geoff Hoon had said that the door had been left "ajar" with regards to the EU referendum, and was that true, the PMOS said that what the Prime Minister had said at the Liaison Committee meeting earlier today spoke for itself. In terms of the UK’s perspective, any deal had to respect the four red lines. If it did not, then there was not a deal. Full stop.

Put that if it breached the four red lines, there would be no deal, and if there was no deal, then there would be no need for a referendum, the PMOS replied that people could follow through the logic as well as he could. However, the four lines were there, and if the deal did not match them, then there was not a deal. If it did, then it was an amending treaty, and the Prime Minister had set out his view very clearly on that. The PMOS commented that he was slightly surprised by some of the reporting last Friday, because what the PMS had done was to restate what was already stated policy.

Asked who was proposing that the QVM was extended to tax, the PMOS replied that he always admired the journalist’s optimism, but in this case, he was especially optimistic for not only inviting the PMOS to give a running commentary on other people’s views, but also to get into the detail of negotiation, neither of which he was going to do.

Put that the French and Spanish press conference overnight were saying that QMV would be introduced in 51 policy areas, and that was more than four red lines that the Prime Minister had set out, and what was the response, the PMOS said that he was not going to get into the detail of negotiation. The important point was that the Prime Minister had set out very clearly the criterion by which we would judge any deal. Those criteria were quite clear, in that we would not allow anything which changed the way in which we enacted our criminal and justice system; the same went for our social security system as well. The PMOS said that we had to actually see what the deal was, rather than speculating about what it might be.

Put that there was therefore no way that we would sign any treaty that would require a referendum, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had been clear right since he met the Dutch Prime Minister that what he believed was necessary for Europe, as well as for the UK, was a more limited treaty, which in the past in the UK had never required a referendum. The PMOS said that Maastricht did not require a vote, nor did the Single European Act.

Asked if we would block any agreement in Brussels at the Council, rather than accept the treaty that might require a referendum, the PMOS replied that we would not agree a deal that breached our red lines.

Asked what it was in 2005 that required a referendum, and what were the elements of the constitution, the PMOS replied they were elements such as flags, national anthems, etc.

Asked if whatever was agreed over the weekend had to be put to Parliament, the PMOS replied that that was the way in which amending treaties had been dealt with in the past.

Asked why did the Europe Minister indicate that the deal was significant, and there would be a referendum, the PMOS said that he would leave the details of interviews to the journalists to analyse.

Asked if the Chancellor might go to the Summit, the PMOS replied that we had made clear all along that it would be the traditional Government representation, and the Prime Minister would go there with a Government position.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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