Friday, April 04, 2003
The penny drops - 4th April 2003, 22.55

If you read David Heathcote-Amory in EUObserver, it is clear that the Conservatives are still not addressing the issue. Heathcote-Amory identifies all of the undemocratic shortcomings within the draft constitution but stays within the expedient boundaries that the Tories set for themselves over the issue of Europe in order not to appear divisive to the public. However, this undermines the purpose of the piece since the Tories are unable to provide any course of action or spell out alternatives if Britain does not sign up to the Constitution.

If the European Convention continues down this route we risk disaster. May the rethink on the Common Foreign and Security Policy lead to a wider review of how to discharge the mandate given to us. Otherwise we will continue to build a Politicians' Europe, not a People's Europe.

What he does not say is more important than what he does. It is an omission that has prevented any political party or movement debating the implications of the European Convention for the United Kingdom. However, Samizdata (apart from David Carr) has noticed the continual development of integration in the Convention and the implementation of Eufor and seem to be surprised that bureaucrats continue with their schemes through crisis and war, although not for long.

But, Gabriel Syme should not despair. There are signs of hope and flexibility, even in the nonsense emanating from the Convention. Lord Howell contributed a long interview to the BBC condemning the Franco-German approach and called for a poll on the Constitution. The idea of a European wide referendum has been backed by the members of the Convention itself where almost half (50 ou of 105) back the proposal.

This is probably the most hopeful route yet reported for halting Britain's integration into Europe. Even if it is held across the EU and on a non-binding basis, it would be difficult for a British government to lose a referendum on our territory and accept an EU wide result. It would also be difficult for Britain to 'opt out' of such a proposal if all other EU members were participating. So, there is a development in the Convention that can be supported.

Although there have been reports of slippage in the convention's timescale, the Helsingen Sanomat is reporting that the Convention's report will be assessed in three months and that the intergovernmental conference will commence in September, with agreement achieved by the end of the year.

Now is the time for the Conservative party and all of the little platoons to make a concerted effort and support a referendum on the proposed European Constitution.


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