UK's Brown to face cross-party push for treaty referendum
UK prime minister Gordon Brown is being pushed further into a corner over the EU's new treaty, as three major parties – conservatives, labour and liberal democrats – are set to kick off a united campaign dubbed "I want a referendum" later today.
"In the coming months we will be increasing the pressure on the government not to break its promise to hold a referendum on the constitutional treaty", Derek Scott from think tank Open Europe, which is behind the campaign, said.
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Mr Scott added that campaigners would be "building a broad-based campaign in every part of the country". They intend to launch a website and start running cinema adverts.
According to UK media reports, up to 120 labour parliamentarians are expected to back the new push for a popular vote, with the former home secretary David Blunkett or former Europe minister Keith Vaz also being listed among the supporters.
"This is an issue of trust", said labour MP Gisela Stuart, who is also backing the campaign.
"We were elected on the promise of a referendum. If we are serious about restoring trust in politics we have to keep our promise and give people a say on this important decision", she added.
So far, Mr Brown has refused to bow to mounting pressure, arguing the EU's reform treaty is no longer a constitution, on which Tony Blair's government had promised a popular vote.
Mr Brown has indicated he will only let the generally EU-sceptic British public decide in one case – if the final legal text does not fully reflect London's demands, known as red lines, agreed by 27 EU leaders in June.
But Downing Street's general stance remains that the document should be treated like all previous treaties and be approved by parliament.
Earlier this week, the country's Europe minister Murphy told EUobserver London has signed up to an unique version of the treaty because of the secured red lines on areas such as foreign policy, justice and home affairs and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
"I am confident the UK's negotiated position will be reflected in the reform treaty text and we are determined that that's the case", Mr Murphy said.