» Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Asked if there was any scenario whereby the Prime Minister could sign up to a treaty in Lisbon and still put it to the people in a referendum, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the Prime Minister’s position was clear. If the Prime Minister believed the treaty violated the red lines, then he would veto the treaty. The only treaty the Prime Minister would sign up to was one that would protect the red lines and in those circumstances the Government would not believe a referendum would be necessary.

Asked how optimistic the Prime Minister was of getting a deal this time round, the PMS replied that, as is well known, the current text of the treaty that had been circulating did secure the red lines, but there would be further discussions over the coming days. The Government would not be in a position to claim definitively that the red lines had been secured until there was a final agreement on the text, meaning that the Government would remain cautious.

Asked if a final agreement had to be reached at the Lisbon summit, or would there be room for further negotiations between now and December, the PMS said the expectation was that there would be political agreement on the text at the summit and it was anticipated that the document would then be translated for formal signing in December.

Put that there were suggestions from the Scrutiny committee that the treaty was not legally watertight, and was the Government confident that it could not be torn up if someone was to challenge it, the PMS replied that the Foreign Secretary had given a very robust defence of the Government’s position on the issue and made clear that in the Government’s view, the red lines in the current text were watertight.

Asked if there were any points in the latest draft that the Government would be challenging, the PMS reiterated that in the current text available, the Government believed that it’s red lines had been secured and that was the key issue.

Asked to what extent was the Prime Minister eager that the treaty issue was put aside eventually, so that Europe could start doing other things, and what else would he like to see Europe getting stuck into, the PMS said the Prime Minister was very strongly of the view that it was necessary to make these changes in order to enable and enlarge the European Union to function, but a lot of time had been spent on this inward looking institutional debate. Once this was concluded the focus would need to be put back onto issues that affected real people, for example, economic growth, jobs, the environment and security.

Asked again if the Prime Minister had a speech or agenda he wanted to set out, the PMS reiterated that the Prime Minister was of the view that the focus needed to be put back onto real issues and away from the institutional debate. There would be discussion of these issues at the summit probably on Friday, if as expected, the treaty was agreed by Thursday evening. It would be a debate that the Prime Minister would be actively participating in, both at the summit and in the period beyond.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be speaking to the summit on the matter of anti-protectionism after reports had suggested he would do so, the PMS said he had not seen or would necessary recognise those reports, but clearly the Prime Minister had argued many times that a global Europe and an open Europe was needed.

Asked again what issues the Prime Minister would be raising, the PMS said he would be setting out his position on the need to take forward economic reform, the climate change debate, and the need for Europe to play a lead role on reinvigorating the trade talks.

Asked if it was the Government’s view that the new treaty was distinct from the previous constitutional treaty, because a) it was an amending treaty or b) because it had the red lines included, the PMS said it was both. Firstly, it was not a constitution and the conclusions of the council in June were explicit that the constitutional concept had been abandoned and this was an amending treaty. Secondly, for the UK, the treaty that affected the country was different from the treaty that affected other countries because of the red lines and the opt-ins and opt-outs that the Government had secured.

Asked if the Government gave both factors equal parity, the PMS said he was not sure he would want to put weighting on them, but obviously both factors applied.

Asked how long the summit would last, the PMS said that it was not for the Government to anticipate exactly how the summit would pan out and that often, unexpected things occurred at these events. The PMS again said that the Government would not be making any definitive judgements until it had seen the final text of the treaty, so one had to remain cautious.

Asked if the Prime Minister would raise issues such as Burma or Darfur, the PMS replied that as far as he was aware those issues were not on the agenda, but there was a fairly lengthy discussion of those matters at the Foreign Minister’s meeting on Monday.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. This Constitution or Treaty, call it either, cannot be signed until all references to the EU or the EU courts having a final say in any disputed matter is removed.

    It cannot be said that the ‘ Red Lines ‘ are watertight until this done.

    If the UK is exempt from various sections, then that is final. But if any interefernce of the slightest legal sigificance is included in the text, then this renders the whole thing inoperative.

    The UK will fair far better if the whole thing is dumped anyway, so that we can get on with fair trade to all nations in the world without the intolerable load of regulations imposed which are particularly crippling to small businesses.

    Comment by Stuart Guppy — 18 Oct 2007 on 10:50 am | Link

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