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Surely Hague is being too clever not to clearly say what he means.It would appear we are back in Tory manana-land again.We've all been there before and that holding position no longer washes------it is as useless as 'in Europe but not run by Europe and the threat of wielding (now empty) handbags.

Lol. The only way Hague and Cameron will demand a post-ratification EU referendum after the next general election is if they are still in opposition.


We should be saying loud and clear that we would hold a 'post-ratification' referendum, when we are returned to power.

That is the only honourable thing to do.
That is the only democratic thing to do.

There is very little point in holding a post-ratification referendum, not because Britain cannot or should not break the treaty, but because a more wholesale reapraisal of our relations with Europe is surely in order if and when a Conservative Government comes to power. To focus on this one treaty is too narrow.

I think Hague's wording is quite smart. "We could not let matters rest there" implies an intent without spelling out at this stage what the precise action will be.

Any Treaty (see the Vienna Convention) can be abrogated by any party to it, Since this one concerns the fundamental basics of our existence as a nation of course it must be the decision of the people as to whether we accept it.
ALL of the major parties and many of the independent MPs promised a referendum. That promise must be honoured.

As politicians keep banging on about DEMOCRACY is it not time that we were shown some.This treaty is the most insidious piece of legislation the E.U. has come up with,even Giscard d'Estaing says we are being deceived by our politicians over the content.Its time the Tories said loud and clear that they will not accept it without a referendum.We,the people should have our say,not have it forced upon us by the diktat of an unelected Stalinist throwback.

Given the history of this matter, and what many think was a clear promise by Mr. Cameron in the Sun in September to hold a post-ratification referendum on the Treaty, most will look askance at this piece of deliberate evasion which contains nothing new in my view.

The failure of Brown to hold a referendum on the Union Constitution is enormously fertile ground.

The harvesting thereof will, however, fail if it is not backed up by a coherent and credible Plan 'B' to provide against the possibility that we will not have a referendum pre-ratification.

That must include options of renegotiation, derogation or repudiation so that people understand clearly what the consequences of ratification are.

Ken Clarke, mischievous as always on this matter, opined that we always knuckle under to Treaties we have ratified. That was not so in 1975 when the terms of accession to the EEC Treaties were ostensibly renegotiated and then put to the '75 referendum. One does wish he would not undermine the party at this time.

Doing nothing cannot, surely, be an honourable option for the Conservatives: if this Treaty is not in our interest now, it does not stop being against our interest because of its being ratified and its coming into force. Indeed its coming into force makes the position worse for the UK as the features inimical to our national interest begin to be deployed against us.

Thus the only honourable and logical steps are to promise a post-ratification referendum. I doubt the Union will countenance renegotation and so it would most likely be on the issue of repudiation.

Deliberate evasion of the kind used today will make many distrust the integrity and honesty of our policy on this Treaty and is is notable that Brown has already tried to highlight this weakness. We should shoot his fox now.


jealousy in such a bad emotion.....

The post-ratification referendum should be on membership of the EU. The unelected BEUrocrats in the Commission will never let us have our sovereignty back unless we threaten to leave.

Surely, in order to give any legitimacy whatsoever to any EU treaty 'ratification', the people would have to have the final say -- in other words, there'd have to be a referendum? After all, it wouldn't be the government's powers that would be ceded to Brussels, it would be the People's powers which successive governments exercise on their behalf, subject to their periodic approval.

Whilst I think that Nick Robinson is jumping the gun, I do think the Conservatives have set out their stall. Not to follow through on the current campaign in a consistent manner would seem hypocritical and would no doubt cause the same difficulties that previous party leaders have suffered over this subject.

To me it seems sensible that the Conservatives as and when they regain power do two things.

1. Introduce the amendment to the 1973 European Communities? act enforcing referendums for all further transfers of powers to (AND FROM?) the EU as promised.

2. Have a referendum to seek a mandate from the people over the UK's relationship with the EU. The core of the questions to be put could be quite simple and a sundown clause set for the mandate to be binding for a set period(say 10/20 years).

i) Repatriate Powers from the EU
ii) Maintain the current (at that time) relationship with the EU
iii) Actively seek to further integrate the UK into the EU

By offering the three alternatives it would be difficult for anyone believing in democracy to oppose the referendum and the result being binding would then put to bed the overarching issue of our relationship with the EU.

It would then be up to the subsequent Governments to enact the mandate provided.

Nothing like an EU debate to bring out the head bangers. If you are going to have a referendum after the treaty is ratified how could you know now what options you would want to have a referendum about? All these people calling for a post GE referendum are just playing Brown's game of distracting attention from what he is doing.

Yes - its encouraging.

Now tell us more about the iPhone and how you can afford to pay for it ....

What's the fuss about?

Any attempt to repatriate the Social Chapter - a long-time Cameron policy - will have to involve a fundamental renegotiation of the treaty anyway.

The prospect of such an event simply isn't news (though I'm not remotely surprised to hear that it may seem so to even the upper echelons of our dire national media).

It'll be very easy to deal with the implications of the revised EU Constitution Treaty at that same time.

Turn your fire away from each other and urgently onto those parties and MPs intending to support ratification of the treaty in a matter of a couple of months.

That's where the action is on this issue right now.

Internal punch-ups about what may or not happen *if* the treaty is ratified, and *if* the Conservatives were to win the next election, can surely wait til later.

The Conservatives will not get into power for quite some time yet. They have had their chance and they let it go. (Blown it sky high) Many people, and I am just one of them, will only vote for a Party that will remove this Country from the European Union.We have voted Conservative time and time again over the years and look where we are now. WE do not want to be governed forever by the EU. If British Governments want to be governed by the EU, to allow the EU to instigate all our laws, there is no point in voting for a UK Government again or paying them, keeping them in the luxury they have obviously come to take for granted. Is there not one MP that understands this?

We have just had remembrance day for all those brave souls that gave their lives fighting for the freedom and liberty today's politicians have just let slip.

Our involvement in the EEC was brought about by lies, we, as a country are tied into the future by more lies, if we, the people allow this to happen. For goodness sake, understand that the people will not simply obey EU laws as our politicians do today.

It is up to politicians to restore our very own Constitution to where it should always have been, taking precedence over other Constitutions and treacherous treaties, Treaties that should never have been accepted in the first place, never mind ratified. How dare any BRITISH politician allow foreigners to dictate what we may do or not do, it is YOU British politicians that have been elected to govern us.

Wise up lads, what WH has said is clear:
(i) if no referendum - Brown would hold a raffle, with Chequers as prize, if he thought thereby to win Brownie points;
(ii)if ratified elsewhere - maybe, now that the flow of funds from Brussels to Ireland has been reversed, the Republic might well vote "no" (and then have to do so once again, as the EU dictate (remember Denmark));
(iii) if there is an election - must come someday, unless Brown does a Musharraf.

Only then, if all the hurdles have been cleared will there be a need for a referendum. After all, when the French and Dutch voted "no" last time round, was Blair let off the hook.
But then, why not hold one on what would then have to be a new arrangement with the EU ( stay as we are, pull back lots of laws, pull out).

It is vital that we can give a clear answer to the obvious question of what we would do if Brown ratifies the treaty. It is simply not credible to avoid this question. To do so would be taken as a lack of commitment.

Far from a distraction, answering the question clearly would allow the public to have confidence in the determination of the party.

read www.eureferendum.blogspot.com on this - richard north's iceberg theory.

"Nothing like an EU debate to bring out the head bangers."

Rotfl. And the useful-idiots who call anyone who mentions the EU a 'head banger' on every single *EU-related* thread thus doing Brown's work of distracting us from the primary issue that we must, at whatever stage, have a vote on such a massive transfer of power from Britain to Brussels (however they determine the actual question).

Come on David, give the insults a rest.

I think people are reading something into Hague's speech which was not really there. I believe we are still very much committed to a Referendum. I was at Womens Conference yesterday (when William made a superb speech immediately prior to going across to the House incidentally) and Timothy Kirkhope in his speech underlined very strongly how determined the Party is to press for a Referendum. The fact that Gordon Brown continues to resist these strong demands shows Labour's utter contempt for the British People.

David Cameron only promised a retrospective referendum after the next general election on six conditions:
– if the opponents of the treaty failed to defeat the Government in the Commons;
- if they failed in the Lords;
- if the Prime Minister did not change his mind;
- if there was not an early election;
- if every other country ratified the accord; and
- if no other EU state held a referendum on the issue.

(See the Independent 24.10.07).

This also seems strange as the Irish Republic must constitutionally hold a referendum, making his proposal a non-starter?

The paper claimed he fears that a stronger commitment would make the Conservative party look obsessed with Europe.

I cannot agree. We are either a sovereign nation, or committed to more-or-less the same policies that New Labour has, as much of what it is doing is to fulfil EU obligations.

Would voters really be happy to find that they had kicked out a Labour government, only to find that the real government had practically remained the same?

Surely if the treaty has been ratified, a referendum is largely pointless.

James, the last referendum on the EU (EEC) in 1975 was post-ratification, so this would be exactly the same.

There is no precedent, it follows the order of the last referendum exactly, so there would be no excuse for Cameron and Hague to wriggle out of it, unless they are simply playing a game at the moment.

Cameron says we need one. He can deliver one (if elected PM) post-ratification, just as it was in 1975.

No more excuses please.

"I'm left wondering if the Government fed the BBC the idea that policy had changed. "

You think? This is their strategy, and the headbangers are just walking into it, eyes wide open and willingly.

A referendum two years after ratification is untenable (not to mention the pratical issues surrounding such a campaign just after a general election, with a small majority and the possibility that defeat will just stall any new Tory government at the start).

The argument is the breaking of a manifesto commitment and the government denying the people a say at the only time they can have it. That's a powerful argument, that's what we should be pushing. Not pointless arguments about what should happen two bloody years away.

We may well be speaking about different things here Chad. The 1975 referendum was about membership of the EEC (Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?). The pledged referendum by Cameron is on an indicative referendum on a single document, with no forced consequences (in fact it would lead to a confused situation with us wishing to be part of Europe and yet not wishing to be a part of it). The Lib Dems want a referendum on membership, not the Conservatives.

More explanation is required here because at the moment, this situation is leading to a headache for a lot of Tories.

Hi James. My point that there is no issue with a post-ratification referendum, irrespective of the question.

We're part of 'Europe' but not part of the 'Euro' so why would a simple referendum demanding the return of other powers make us any less 'in Europe'?

Either Cameron wants to repatriate powers or he does not. He claims the current loss of powers requires a referendum, and there is no reason why that cannot, as with the last vote, be post-ratification.

I agree though, the current Tory position is (deliberately) equivocal. The Tories are clearly not going to offer any such referendum post-ratification, but are simply seeking to delay internal warfare for now, so it would probably be more useful if we discount these 'hints' from Hague entirely.

I see David, so are you effectively saying that pushing for a referendum is just a tactic to get the Tory Party elected at the next election.....not a stepping stone towards reducing the democratic deficit in Europe? And pointing this out makes me a "headbanger"?

There is no such thing as a post-ratification referendum. It would have no force whatsoever.

We could have a referendum on EU membership, but that's a very different thing.

We could have a glorified opinion poll referendum on the general future of EU policy (more repatriation, stay the same, more integration), but that would be impossible to implement - if we got agreement for the repatriation of the Social Chapter, CAP and CFP in return for greater integration of Energy policy would that count as integration or repatriation?

I wish people would stop posturing and be honest. You can't rip up the Lisbon Treaty once it's ratified. You can leave the EU, and you can go in to negotiate future treaties, but that's not what we're talking about. And that's why getting a referendum now is so important, and why it's so infuriating to see posters on here surrendering in the battle for such a referendum before the first shot has been fired.

There is no problem at all except in the minds of David and James Maskell above (and the hacks of the europhile press) .

Any treaty can be abrogated and armed with a public rejection of this Constitution Cameron / Hague can go to Europe and say what will do to meet this demand.

The possible scenario is a "reform the EU" minded party making demands on the EU which the EU will refuse. That would raise the stakes in the whole game and that is what we should all work for. The "withdrawal or nothing" policy is one that achieves one of its objects - "nothing". And that is precisely what the europhiles try and push the Tory party towards.

If William Hague wishes to put the matter beyond doubt he should make it clear that Parliament is sovereign in all matters except in surrendering its own powers. That is a matter for the British people who merely entrust the power to govern for the term of one Parliament at a time.

Ratification of the Reform Treaty is matter for the British people in a Referendum and a matter only for them.

Since he has made this commitment for future Treaties (which is of course irrelevant given the self amending terms of the present Treaty) it should require no great effort to spell out the same for current one. Anything less would be intellectually dishonest.


Do you support Cameron's pledge to repatriate the Social Chapter?

That is part of an already (long ago) ratified treaty.

How on earth Nick Robinson can make anything out of a series of evasive comments to hypothentical questioning must be one of the wonders of modern broadcasting.

Is bashing the BBC just a paranoid reflex or do you have any actual evidence for this?

In a letter published yesterday in the Northern Echo,Martin Callanan,Conservative M.E.P. for the N.E.of England stated that David Cameron has even committed to a referendum after the treaty has come into force.
It seems to me that the Conservative Party are doing a bit of ducking and diving on this issue. I dont trust them or the Lib/Labs on the subject of the E.U.

Typical Tory democratic thinking - you the electorate can have as much democracy as you like whilst we are in opposition.
When, If, we ever do form Her Majesty's Government, for you, Tommy, democracy is over.

So the Tory Party are not in the business of long term strategic thinking, 2 years is much too far ahead to be bothered with. - Prat.

It is about time the Conservatives realised the stark choices that only THEY can make. They have a choice that we, the people, will not have. If they really want to speak for the people of this Country they should ALL vote NO to the ratification of the Reform Treaty. They should, can and MUST insist that any British Prime Minister worthy of that name must honour Labour's Manifesto promise. If they do not, they will never become leaders of this Country again. Nor will any other British Party, for this Country will be no more, it will die. It will probably die of SHAME! Never again will any sensible person vote or trust any politician again. I should imagine the only "Parties" we will be allowed to vote in what will be the combined political Parties that presently grace the EU Parliament. Conservatives? A thing of the past. Labour? Never mention that name again here in what used to be the UK, for it was that Political Party that gave our Country away. Lib-Dems, joined up with their equivalent Party in the EU Parliament. Get the picture? You soon will if Labour gets its way.

Of course a post-ratification referendum is not necessary.

Whoever started the internal squabble on this point has a lot to answer for. Labour must be laughing.

Such a referendum would be an utter waste of time as the party already has a policy to renegotiate (over the Social Chapter).

The Constitution Treaty can simply be dealt with at the same negotiations.

Meanwhile, let's focus on blocking ratification, by pressuring MPs in marginal seats to honour their clear election promises.

Swaying enough of them is not nearly as impossible as Hague or others may believe.

I'm not going to place my faith on this issue in the hands of the Conservatives winning the next election. I want to stop it NOW.

If William Hague wishes to put the matter beyond doubt he should make it clear that Parliament is sovereign in all matters except in surrendering its own powers.

And here you hit the nail on the head. Of course he's not stupid enough to put the matter beyond doubt. It would be a silly hostage to fortune.

Your Parliament blog is invaluable, Editor, especially for its links to Hansard.

The latter I think conclusively proves that you have got this one wrong.

{tea-leaf reading} Hague stated, in answer to a question about a post-ratification referendum:

"If we did not succeed in forcing a referendum in this House, if we failed to win in another place, if all other EU member states implemented the treaty and if an election were held later in this Parliament—that is a lot of ifs—we would have a new treaty in force that lacked democratic legitimacy in this country and in our view gave the EU too much power over our national policies. That would not be acceptable to a Conservative Government and we would not let matters rest there; the right hon. Gentleman can be assured of that."

There are interruptions, and Ken Clarke then rises to list the options available to a Tory govt post ratification. Here is where I suggest you are wrong, Ed, in thinking that Hague did not mean what he said. For he replies:

"Mr. Hague: I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that there will be no veering in any direction. I assure him that if all the things that I have listed happened, there would be wide consultation in the Conservative party as we decided how to proceed.

Even from their own point of view, it is a huge mistake by Ministers not to support a referendum, because a treaty passed without a referendum will not enjoy democratic legitimacy or acceptance in this country. That is the background against which we would have to set our future policy; let me make that very clear today."

Now we are to couple that with Bernard Jenkin's recent statement, which said, and I paraphrase, that there was no question as to *whether* we would repatriate or amend powers ceded in the Treatystution, but that rather the debate was as to *how exactly* we would reclaim them. Perhaps, for example, post ratification, rather than hold a referendum on repudiation the Tory party would go into an election with a clear manifesto commitment to abrogating all or part of the Treaty (the ratchet clause in particular) and to reclaiming certain powers; elected on such a manifesto, we would not need a referendum to withdraw.

It seems to me that Hague was quite clear not once but twice on this. We'd have consultation as to the *exact method* of renegotiation, but we'd start from the position that the Treatystution was undemocratic and wrong, and could not be permitted to remain. {/tealeaf reading}

"Whoever started the internal squabble on this point has a lot to answer for"

Um, that would be a certain Mr David Cameron MP who made a (in his own words) 'cast iron' guarantee then reaffirmed it (when it was know that no election would occur before ratification) in a national newspaper ad campaign.

Ive asked before about whether a treaty can be unratified in the way we've been discussing and no one spoke up. christina, how can we unratify an internationally binding treaty if we are one of the people that had already ratified it?

Can someone please explain how we unratify the treaty? Go into as much detail as your heart desires...

We had Cameron backing away from a promise to leave the 'ever tighter union' grouping in the EuroParliament, with his promise to do it 'years from now'.
Now we have Hague saying on the referendum issue "If this,if that,if something else, we could not let matters rest there".
Why can't he behave in a less wimpish manner and say that, since a referendum was promised by this Government, the Tories WILL have that referendum when they come to power, and will carry out the wishes of the British people no matter what Gordon Brown does in the meantime?
Many people seem to have great hopes in William Hague. His 'Iffi' behavior is likely to lose him this support.
So come on Mr Hague, put some beef into the Tory Front Bench!

My views and the exact wording used are on my blog Ironies Too.

More critical for Conservatives clearly contemplating a sell-out will IMHO be the following evidence in the Commons this afternoon before the EU Scrutiny Committee:

The Committee will hear oral evidence at 3.20pm on Wednesday 14 November in Committee Room 19, Palace of Westminster. Rt Hon Lord Williamson GCMG CB, Former Secretary-General of the European Commission will give evidence on the inquiry into "Arrangements for the preparation, consideration, and approval of the conclusions of the European Council and the Council of Ministers".


1. We pass an act of parliament saying we abrogate the treaty.

2. We contact our treaty partners and inform them we are abrogating the treaty, and/or part of the treaty.

Simple as!

Parliament cannot bind its successor. We can withdraw from any treaty the same way we can repeal any law.

I don't think they'll send troops after us!


#1 You hold a referendum detailing the powers you would like to be repatriated, to be voted on as an overall package, not a shopping list. So you may not agree with all etc, but you are voting yes or no overall.

#2 You go to the EU, and say that you really do not want to leave the EU, but the people of the UK have voted for a return of [list of powers from referendum] and you have a democratic responsibility to deliver them.

#3 The EU then has to decide whether it would pose more of a risk to their existence to refuse or accept the UK demands.

However, the UK is a winner either way as we either stay in the EU and get our powers repatriated, or we have to leave, and the result is the same.

Forget about 'ratification', the EU will do *whatever* it needs to do to prolong its own existence, and will happily bend any rule to achieve said goal, and breaks it owns rules, and allows members to break rules regularly [Google 'Prodi', 'Romanians' and 'EU law' together].

James - Just seen your query. Agree with Chad and Activist.

Abrogating treaties is provided for in the long-standing Vienna Convention on Treaties. No problem at all. We just do it and inform the other signatories. Politeness means that we give them a bit of notice that we are going to do that !

Naturally we then start the negotiations about how to rearrange our mutual affairs on as best we can.

Wiliam Hague reminds me of a saying by the late Sam Goldwyn. "I`ll give you a definite maybe (in some versions "perhaps" is used).

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