Monday

25th Jun 2018

UK referendum bid defeated

  • The UK parliament and not British citizens will vote to ratify the new EU's Lisbon treaty (Photo: wikipedia)

The UK's parliament has rejected a call for referendum on the new EU's Lisbon treaty, a move representing a victory for Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown which has argued in the face of bitter opposition that there should not be a public poll.

The House of Commons on late Wednesday (5 March) voted against the proposal for a popular vote by 311 votes to 248, with a margin of 63, the BBC reported.

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

The Lisbon treaty was signed by EU leaders in December 2007 and it must be ratified by all the bloc's member states before taking into force. Most countries have opted for a parliamentary ratification, with only Ireland due to hold a referendum on the issue, probably in June.

The push for a popular vote in Britain was due to a manifesto pledge before the 2005 general elections by all three main political parties to ask citizens for their approval of the EU constitution.

The constitution was subsequently rejected by French and Dutch voters in mid-2005, but the current treaty contains most of its innovations.

While the UK's ruling Labour party as well as the Liberal Democrats claim the Lisbon treaty no longer has constitutional implications for Britain and so does require a referendum, the Conservatives insist the document is the constitution but with a different name.

"We have the courage of our convictions and are sticking to that promise - you have lost your courage," Conservative leader David Cameron told the prime minister in a passionate debate in parliament.

Mr Brown hit back by saying: "If this was a constitutional treaty, we would hold a referendum. But the constitutional concept was abandoned."

The Labour MPs also referred to several "opt-outs" from the Lisbon treaty that the government had negotiated, mainly on citizens rights, and justice and home affairs.

But Wednesday's vote showed some differences of opinion within the political parties over their own official lines on the treaty. Some 29 Labour MPs and 13 Liberal Democrats voted with the Conservatives in favour of a referendum, while three Conservatives voted against their party line.

Britain is now expected to ratify the treaty by the summer. So far, five countries have given the green light to the document: Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, France, and Romania.

Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs

The Hungarian government of Viktor Orban has said it will not wait until Friday, to hear a verdict of European legal experts on human rights, before going ahead with its bill curtailing NGOs who work with migrants.

Poland urged to halt 'purge' of top court

Next month Supreme Court judges could be removed in Poland - due to a controversial reform seen as a judicial purge by a government that wants to control the courts. The European Commission wants Warsaw to act now.

Dutch PM urges 'less is more' EU model

It was Mark Rutte's Dutch premier's turn to share his vision on the future of Europe with MEPs. An emerging EU leader in the post-Brexit bloc called for a more united, but less centralised Europe.

Analysis

Greece facing post-bailout challenges

Creditors are expected to agree Thursday on a final loan and debt relief measures for Greece. After eight years on an international lifeline, the country will remain under close surveillance - but will have to find a new economic model.

News in Brief

  1. EP civil liberties committee votes for Article 7 on Hungary
  2. Report blames 2017 egg scare on lax EU enforcement
  3. Nine countries to sign up for Macron's military initiative
  4. Re-elected Erdogan potentially in power until 2028
  5. Macron's popularity drops among French pensioners
  6. Tajani calls for €6bn investment to halt migration
  7. Major demo in London for second EU referendum
  8. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  4. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  5. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  11. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  12. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform

Latest News

  1. Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability
  2. Ponytailed green MEP joins 'the other side of the table'
  3. EU leaders still in search of migration plan
  4. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  5. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  6. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  7. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  8. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us