Azara Blog: MPs produce a pointless report about the Lisbon Treaty

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Date published: 2008/01/20

The BBC says:

Parts of the Lisbon Treaty, signed by Gordon Brown last month, are no different from the abandoned EU Constitution, a report by MPs has said.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said foreign policy in the treaty was the same as in the constitution, on which Labour promised a referendum.

It also accused the government of publicly downplaying the importance of some new EU institutions and roles.

Ministers argue no referendum is needed as the treaty is not constitutional.
But shadow foreign secretary William Hague, speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, said the treaty was widely seen as being "90% or 95% the same" as the failed EU constitution, on which all parties had promised a vote.

"I see it as a very straightforward issue of trust in politics. And one of the ways of restoring trust in politics is to hold that referendum," said Mr Hague.

It's hard to know who is more pathetic, the government, the MPs or the Tories. Nobody ever said the treaty had no common parts with the abandoned EU Constitution. You can argue about whether it has changed enough to be deemed to be "very" different, but that's a completely irrelevant discussion, you might as well be arguing about how many angels dance on the head of a pin. The Tories, trying to make this an issue of trust, are completely showing why nobody trusts them. They do not really care about the referendum, they just don't like the treaty. If they were honest they would say "We don't like the treaty and would like to defeat it. We do not have a majority in the Commons behind us, so we want a referendum because we know the people of Britain would turn down the treaty. (If there was a good chance they would vote for the treaty, we would of course not want a referendum.)" See, that's not difficult, but of course it doesn't make the Tories look high and mighty. But lying about what they want doesn't make the Tories look high and mighty either. And yes, the government (stupidly) promised a referendum about the constitution, and now they don't want to hold any referendum on the EU because they would lose (any vote, it doesn't matter the subject). So they are also not very honest. And the MPs are not much better, wasting time and money on this pointless report.

Why is Britain incapable of holding a debate about the merits of the treaty, rather than about this pathetic question about a referendum? You can guarantee that 99% of the country doesn't know a single issue raised in the treaty, but you can also guarantee that most of the country would be willing to vote it down because it is allegedly bad.

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