The European Scrutiny Committee – a cross-party committee of MPs – has concluded that the EU Treaty is "substantially equivalent" to the EU Constitution, reports the BBC. Further undermining Gordon Brown’s claim that the Treaty is different enough from the Constitution that he does not have to honour Labour’s manifesto promise to hold a referendum, the Committee warned that the Government’s "red lines" might not be effective.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Neil O’Brien of Open Europe’s IWantAReferendum campaign, heralded the report as a "turning point" in the debate over whether the British people deserve a vote on the Treaty.
Today’s Sun urges Gordon Brown to escape his present troubles by tearing up the Treaty:
"EU leaders meet in Lisbon next week to thrash out the final details of the new EU Treaty, which MPs yesterday warned is “substantially equivalent” to the old Constitution. Britain will be under intense pressure to sign up — and forever change the way Britain is governed. For all our so-called “red line” opt-outs, we will eventually lose control over defence, police, law courts and foreign policy. Mr Brown should now honour his election promise and give us a referendum — or tear up the treaty and walk out."
At last week’s Conservative Party Conference, the Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague promised to make it illegal to ever sign away powers to the EU without first holding a referendum: "The next Conservative Government will end the 1972 European Communities Act, so that if any future government agrees any treaty that transfers further competences from Britain to the EU a national referendum before it could be ratified would be required by law."
This welcome commitment is not enough for Peter Bone MP, however. Mr Bone writes for ConservativeHome today – explaining why he is the latest Conservative backbencher to believe that it is time for the UK to leave the EU.
Related link: The Conservative Party’s EU Treaty in Plain English
11.45am: Ruth Lea of Global Vision has just released this statement: "“It is now perfectly clear that the government’s assertions that the reform Treaty is somehow different from the Constitution have no foundations. They promised a referendum on the Constitution; we should have a referendum on the Reform Treaty. The Government’s ‘red lines’ are essentially red herrings as they had been agreed prior to the Government’s decision on a referendum back in 2004."