20th Jul 2018

Referendum on new EU treaty not needed, says Gordon Brown

UK prime minister Gordon Brown on Monday said that holding a referendum on the new EU treaty is not needed, despite increasing pressure - notably from the UK's national media.

British daily tabloid The Sun on Monday (24 September) qualified the so-called reform treaty as "the greatest threat to our [the British] nation since World War Two" and accused the British prime minister of not keeping a promise to hold a popular vote on the matter.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

But Mr Brown the same day dismissed the calls for a poll at an annual conference of his party – the Labour party.

"If we needed a referendum we would have one. But I think most people recognise that there is not a fundamental change taking place as a result of this amended treaty", Mr Brown told BBC television.

"The first words of the Brussels declaration are, 'the constitutional concept has been abandoned'. So what was proposed originally has been abandoned", he added.

But the widely read British tabloid claims exactly the opposite.

"Gordon Brown is about to sign an EU constitution that would change forever the way we are governed (…).We will lose control over our courts, police and welfare policy", the Sun claims in its three-page editorial.

It adds that the treaty would be a "blueprint for a United States of Europe" and promises to keep pressure on the prime minister.

After London secured opt-outs in key areas such as justice and home affairs and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Mr Brown judged the treaty sufficiently different from the original constitution that it could be ratified by parliament.

The government had previously indicated its intention to have a referendum on the constitution, which was then rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

But the official stance has met opposition both within the prime minister's own party and the opposition.

The EU is following closely the British referendum debate, as the UK public is generally seen as among the most eurosceptic in Europe.

According to a poll carried out for The Sun, if a referendum on the new EU treaty were to be held, 38% of the British would vote against it and 32% in favour.

Brussels is still hoping that the document's text will be finalised during an EU meeting on 18-19 October and officially introduced in 2009.

So far, only Ireland has definitely said it will have a referendum on the treaty.

The Dutch government last week decided against holding one – although Dutch MPs may try and push an own-initiative poll – while Denmark, whose constitution requires a referendum if the county's sovereignty is affected, has said it will not decide on the question until the EU treaty is finally agreed.


Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.


EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.


EU leaders take on migration to fight political crisis

The main objective of Thursday's summit in Brussels will be to agree on new measures to reduce illegal migration, in order to help Angela Merkel at home and fight populists and extremists across the bloc.

EU delays Macedonia and Albania talks

Accession talks to start in 2019, not this year as hoped, after France, Denmark and Netherlands force delay despite breakthrough on Macedonia name dispute.


Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us