Friday, 21 December 2007

Nottingham North – Where is Our EU Lisbon Treaty Referendum?

James McConalogue (European Foundation, London): Five years ago on 2nd December 2002, the elected Labour MP for Nottingham North, Graham Allen, told the House of Commons that by creating an EU Constitution, firstly “it would not have 40 or 50 founding fathers, as the United States constitution had, but several million founding fathers and mothers”, secondly “such a constitution would enjoy the support of the population as a whole” and thirdly, it “would have to be endorsed by the British people in a referendum.”

Whilst I must congratulate Mr. Allen on both his honesty to espouse his essentially pro-European ambitions and views as he thinks fit (although I disagree) and to recommend the use of a democratic referendum to reach an agreement, I wonder if he would now support the democratic case for referendum on the Lisbon Treaty which – like its “substantially equivalent” precursor, the EU Constitution – fundamentally alters the nature of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. It most certainly is not in the interests of Nottingham North to allow their elected MP to allow Gordon Brown to sign this country up to a Constitution for the ‘United States of Europe’.

I realise that the elected Labour MP for Nottingham North must now feel compelled to remain silent on the Lisbon Treaty – and of course the wholly negative impact this will have on his own constituency by averting a national referendum – given the need for him to win a sufficient majority at the next election. However, as an elected Member of Parliament, can Graham Allen not see that by refusing to let the people of Nottingham North have their say through a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (which fundamentally and irreversibly alters the nature of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union), the call for democracy in this constituency and across the country will be sunk beneath the authority of unelected European officials. This is clearly undemocratic.

I can only assume, on his own terms, that the case for a referendum is still in the interest of British democracy and to put it right, he must enable a referendum or better still vote against the Treaty given its detrimental consequences for the democratic future of Britain. Any action to the contrary would surely make Graham Allen unelectable at the next election.

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