Saturday

10th Dec 2022

UK opposition leader vows Lisbon referendum

David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative party in Britain, has pledged to hold a referendum on the EU's Lisbon treaty if his party is elected later this year.

Mr Cameron told the Financial Times newspaper that he believes that the Labour government under Prime Minister Gordon Brown may hold an election in 2009, possibly as early as April.

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Under this scenario "we could have a referendum in October," the Conservative politician said.

An early election by Mr Brown - the last date by which the government has to call an election is June 2010 - would hand the Conservatives an opportunity to derail the EU's latest treaty, although it has already been ratified by British Parliament and approved by the queen.

Britain's Conservative Party, which is generally eurosceptic, is a strong opponent of Lisbon and has long campaigned to hold a referendum on the document.

A public poll would expose Britain's ambivalent relationship with Europe and has a major chance of resulting in a No vote.

This would effectively kill off the Lisbon treaty and plunge the EU into another a political crisis.

A Conservative win in Britain would also be watched nervously in Ireland, which is planning a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty later this year.

Ireland is under pressure to secure a Yes vote, following its rejection of the document first time round in June 2008. A Yes would pave the way to the treaty being put in place across the EU from January 2010.

A eurosceptic government in London would offer a boost to the Irish anti-treaty camp and disrupt the way Dublin conducts its referendum campaign.

Prime Minister Brown has said that an early general election is "the last thing" on his mind.

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