15th Dec 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.

... or 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.

Anti-semitism 'disturbingly normalised' in Europe

Almost 40 percent of European Jews contemplate leaving their home country because they no longer feel safe, and almost 85 percent say their number one concern in Europe is anti-semitism and racism, according to a new EU survey.

Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, seen as championing similar policies to Angela Merkel, has won the CDU party leadership contest and is thus the frontrunner to become chancellor once Merkel leaves. But a split party will mean challenges.


CDU election - Merkel's big gamble or master move?

As the functions of Christian Democratic Union party leader and chancellor have historically always been held by the same person, the next CDU leader could take over Merkel's main job as well.

EU warns tech giants on Russian fake news

Social media platforms are told to tackle fake accounts and the spread of fake news more effectively before the European elections next May - or face regulation.

Soros' university forced out of Budapest, despite EU pledges

The American university is forced to move to Vienna, as EU institutions fail to curb Hungarian nationalist premier, Viktor Orban's push against academic freedom. "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary," the rector said.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government


EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us