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Eurosceptics ridicule Coalition's referendum lock

By Tim Montgomerie

The Coalition announces its referendum lock today but it has been attacked as meaningless by Bill Cash MP (in the Daily Mail), Roger Helmer MEP (on Twitter) and now, most convincingly, by Douglas Carswell on his blog:

"This “lock” is worthless – and ministers must know it. Under the Lisbon Treaty (no referendum), the EU doesn't need any more treaties to give itself more powers.  That, Mr Hague and Mr Lidington, was kind of the point of offering a referendum in the first place...

Incidentally, since we promised this “lock”, the EU has 1) established a diplomatic corps, which we voted through the Commons, 2) given Eurocrats control over the City, 3) extended the EU arrest warrant, and 4) agreed to an inflation-busting EU budget increase.  We've hardly stopped give the EU more powers since May, have we?

The idea this referendum "lock" stops Brussels from continuing to assume more powers, usually with ministerial acquiesce, is balls. We might have had a changed ministers at the Foreign Office this year, but I can see no evidence of any change in EU integrationist policy."

I'm waiting to speak to Europe Minister David Lidington later and will update the blog once I do.

LIDINGTON David Noon update: David Lidington's written answer on the lock has now been published:

"The Coalition Programme says that the Government will ensure that there will be no transfer of competence or power from the UK to the EU during this Parliament; and so there will be no such referendum during this Parliament. A referendum would be required only if the Government supported a proposed change and if that change transferred power or competence from the UK to the EU, and would be held before the Government ratify such a change, or in the case of major ratchet clauses, agree formally to the use of the clause in the Council. As any EU treaty needs the unanimous agreement of all EU Member States including the UK, where the Government opposes any proposed treaty change, a referendum would not be required.

The coalition agreement contains a clear commitment that this Government will not join, or prepare to join, the Euro in this Parliament; nor will this Government agree to the UK’s participation in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor. Furthermore, this Government will ensure that any future proposal to do either of these will require a referendum of the British people. In addition, any proposal which would mean the UK giving up its border controls, or any proposal to adopt a common EU defence policy, would also require a referendum of the British people before the Government could agree."

Read it in full.


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