The Daily Mail is unimpressed at Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to commit to attend Wednesday’s signing of the EU Treaty:
"It looks like a feeble and cynical attempt to distance Mr Brown from a deeply unpopular measure which he is pushing through without public consent."
We know that the Treaty is unpopular* but is it "deeply" unpopular?
The IWantAReferendum petition has 31,091 signatures at the time of posting. The Telegraph has over 110,000 but broke the 100,000 barrier a couple of months ago and has stalled somewhat since. The Sun lost more than 100,000 sales on the day it launched its campaign against the Treaty. A Westminster lobby on the Treaty was pretty poorly attended.
Iain Martin in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph fears that Gordon Brown may be grinding out a victory on the Treaty:
"Even though the wider public told pollsters that they disliked the whole business, such feelings at no point coalesced into an outpouring that might have altered the Government’s determination to press ahead. Why did this happen? …[Gordon Brown] presumed that while a majority of voters say they care about the erosion of British sovereignty, only a minority do so with passion. Stick this out and it will go away, he thought… Time, surely, for a period of calm reflection by Eurosceptics of all persuasions. The answer is not a turning up of the volume; impotent rage failed in the past and there is no sign it will work in the future."
ConservativeHome does not advocate giving up the fight but, before the new year’s parliamentary debates on the Treaty, there is a strong case for rethinking tactics. The Sun’s campaign upset some in the retired ‘No campaign’. "It was too Dad’s Army," one said, "noone has yet brought the significant implications of the Treaty alive for voters."
* Global Vision has released an ICM opinion poll today: "On the referendum issue, nearly three quarters said there should be a referendum, whilst less than 20% thought not. Concerning Britain’s relationship with the EU, people were given a choice of three options. The first, supported by just under a quarter of respondents, was to stay within the EU and participate in further integration. The second was to have a looser relationship with the EU based on trade and cooperation, whilst opting out of political and economic union. This was supported by nearly a half of the people and was clearly the option of choice. And the third was to withdraw from the EU altogether and was also supported by just under a quarter of respondents."