Blair: If Britain
Votes No to Europe, We'll Just Have Another Referendum Until They Vote Yes
Financial Times | April 22 2004
(Posted here by Wes Penre for
Illuminati News, April 22, 2004)
Blair came close to acknowledging on Wednesday that a Labour government would
hold a second referendum on the new European constitution if there were a
victory for the No camp in a plebiscite next year.
At prime minister's question time, Mr Blair
was asked by Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, if Labour would veto the
constitution or renegotiate it if the No camp won.
Blair replied: "We will be in exactly the same position as, for example, Ireland
after its rejection for the first time round of the Nice treaty, which means if
we were in government we would sit down obviously and have to discuss the way
forward with other European countries.
"That is what Ireland did after the rejection
of the Nice treaty," he said. "That is what would happen if we were in
In a subsequent exchange of letters, Mr Howard
seized on Mr Blair's comparison to the Irish No result. He said the clear
implication was that, like Ireland, the Blair government would seek to
renegotiate the treaty and hold a second referendum in the way the Irish
republic had done.
"In other words," said Mr Howard, "if the
British people did not vote the way you wanted, you would make them vote again
until they did. You underestimate the British people."
The Conservatives said the prime minister's
reference to the Irish referendum suggested Mr Blair's sudden pledge to hold a
plebiscite on the constitution had been ill-thought through.
The Tories noted that, in his statement to the
Commons yesterday, Mr Blair had said the referendum would be a
"once-and-for-all" opportunity to define Britain's role in Europe, implying
there could be no subsequent negotiation or referendum over the constitution.
There was some good news for Mr Blair when
Kenneth Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor and the leading pro-European
in the Tory party, threw his weight behind the nascent Yes campaign. He told the
FT: "If there is a Yes campaign, I will be involved with it."
Mr Clarke said: "Most people are not adding
the proviso, depending on what's negotiated. Assuming the constitution resembles
or is along the same lines as what we have at the moment, I intend to join an
all-party campaign on the issue."
His remarks will be welcomed by Mr Blair, who
has come under attack from other pro-Europeans, among them Lord Heseltine, the
former Tory minister, for his policy reversal.
Britain in Europe, which had intended to lead
the Yes campaign if a referendum was called on joining the euro, is to
reorganise itself for the plebiscite on the constitution.
At a board meeting on Wednesday, the group
decided to build a broader base of support to contend what would be a purely
political debate rather than an economic one. Lucy Powell, campaign director,
said: "We'll be looking for new personalities on the board and new spokespeople.
We're starting out as underdogs but we're confident that in a fair and balanced
debate we can win the arguments . . . "
The working assumption in BiE is there will be
little activity in the run-up to a general election but that the campaign will
begin in earnest afterwards with a referendum being held within five months.
Thursday, April 22, 2004 04:55:43 -0700