David Cameron began his response to the Prime Minister’s statement on the EU Treaty by noting that Mr Brown didn’t mention the issue of a referendum once. ‘If Labour can’t trust the people, the people can’t trust him,’ he charged – echoing the words of Labour MP Gisela Stuart.
Cameron invited the Prime Minister to confirm:
- That this Treaty gets rid of the national veto in 60 areas.
- An EU President, Foreign Minister and diplomatic service would be created in all but the name.
- A new ratchet clause will be effected that will allow more vetoes to be scrapped without an IGC. This ratchet clause will allow institutional changes every year.
Mr Cameron then listed the opinions of others:
- The Irish PM says that this Treaty represents 90% of the Constitution; the Spanish PM says 98% the same; Chancellor Merkel says the substance of the Constitution has been preserved.
- His new Minister, Lord (Digby) Jones of Birmingham has said that it’s a con to call it a Treaty, it’s a Constiutution.
- His Labour colleagues on the EU scrutiny committee say that the Treaty is substantially equivalent to the Constitution.
Quoting Gisela Stuart, Mr Cameron said that the red lines are red
herrings. Take the red line on tax. It’s not legally binding. The
scrutiny committee says it may turn out to be meaningless.
The red line on criminal justice. The chairman of the Commons
scrutiny committee says it will not be sustainable. That it will be
challenged. It will leak like a sieve.
The last PM said let battle be joined. This PM says let battle be avoided.
Mr Brown promised to restore to trust in politics. He promised to
listen. He promise to honour his manifesto. Noone will trust him
after this retreat.
Cameron ended his response with a challenge:
Will he allow Labour MPs to have a free vote on a Commons vote on whether there should be a referendum?
Brown failed to respond to that last challenge. Most of his remarks
focused on the Conservatives’ alleged isolation in Europe. The Leader
of the Opposition’s only European ally, Mr Brown suggested – the Czechs
– supported this Treaty.