Saturday

10th Dec 2022

UK millionaire's Lisbon Treaty challenge defeated

UK millionaire Stuart Wheeler's attempt to force a referendum in Britain on the Lisbon Treaty via a High Court order have been defeated.

Two judges, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mackay, rejected on Wednesday (25 June) Mr Wheeler's claim that there was a "legitimate expectation" of a referendum on the text.

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"We have found nothing in the claimant's case to cast doubt on the lawfulness of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum," said the judges in their decision, with the treaty now set to become UK law after its parliamentary and royal approval earlier this month.

The court also refused Mr Wheeler, who made his fortune from spread-betting, permission to appeal, due to the "serious legal, constitutional and public interest issues arising in the case."

His lawyers had argued that as the Labour Party had promised a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty in their 2005 election manifesto, the British electorate could legitimately expect a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which features many similarities with its predecessor.

Despite the judges' decision on the possibility of an appeal, Mr Wheeler has instructed his lawyers to mount a fresh legal challenge.

Treaty 'cannot come into force' says Czech president

Separately, while the Lisbon Treaty may have received good news from the UK court, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has said the treaty "cannot come into force."

In an interview with Spanish daily El Pais, the eurosceptic Mr Klaus said: "The EU cannot ignore its own rules. The Lisbon Treaty has been roundly and democratically rejected by Ireland, and it therefore cannot come into force."

"Any attempt to ignore this fact and make recourse to pressure and political manipulation to move the treaty forward would have disastrous consequences for Europe," he added.

Asked whether the country will ratify the treaty, the president said "Since the treaty must unanimously be ratified of all the member states of the EU and one of them has already rejected it, the final result of the ratification will be the same.

"With or without the Czech vote, the Treaty of Lisbon will not be ratified," he concluded.

Czech prime minister has different ideas

However, the Czech president was contradicted by the country's head of government. Prime minister Mirek Topolanek said he was optimistic that ratification of the Treaty would move ahead.

Mr Topolanek, spoke on Wednesday following a Berlin meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel and Slovak prime minister Roberto Fico ahead of commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Prague Spring - a short-lived period in 1968 of political liberalisation under Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubcek, a communist reformist.

Mr Topolanek said that parliamentary ratification would proceed as soon as the Czech constitutional court had vetted the EU document.

"I am in any case an optimist on this question," he said.

Ms Merkel added: "If my Czech colleague is an optimist, then I am an optimist too."

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