A day late for this news, but what the heck:
A group of 34 Liberal Democrat Councillors today release an open letter calling for a referendum on the revived Constitutional Treaty.
While Sir Menzies Campbell has called for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, he suggested that the Liberal Democrats might back out of their promise to hold a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty.
Mike Hancock MP, who organised the letter, said: “This letter reflects much wider feeling in the party. Many people in the grass roots of the party think we should be putting pressure on the Government to keep its promise and hold a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty.”
The Councillors’ letter says:
“In 2003 the Liberal Democrats called for a referendum on the EU’s Constitutional Treaty, with the unanimous support of the parliamentary party. At the last election all three main parties called for a vote on the text.
EU leaders are now set to agree a new treaty, which is essentially the same in substance as the original Constitution.
However, the Government is now attempting to back out of its manifesto promise to give voters a say. We believe that the Liberal Democrats should support a referendum on the treaty, and put pressure on the Government not to break its promise.”
If you recall, Ming tried to confuse things by suggesting a referendum on EU membership. Now, it might be that all the other EU countries accept the consti-treaty with only the UK rejecting (no one doubts that a referendum would produce a strong “no” to the so-called amending treaty).
In this event, the UK would be frozen out of the new EU – which is not the same as leaving, mind. Less people would vote against the consti-treaty if the referendum was on EU membership, which is perhaps why Campbell has suggested a referendum on this question.
The response to Ming from Derek Scott, the “I Want a Referendum” campaign’s chairman, was as follows:
“The Liberal Democrats want an honest debate so they must not try to force people into a fake choice between either giving more powers to the EU and leaving altogether.”
“The overwhelming majority of people in Britain want to cooperate in Europe, but not give more powers away.”
“The only honest thing to do is to give people the referendum they were promised on the Constitutional Treaty. If Mr Campbell really wants to have a national debate on the EU, then the only realistic way is to back a referendum on the Constitutional Treaty. Otherwise it is just meaningless.”