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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
In quotes: UK reacts to EU vote

Politicians have been talking about the impact on the UK of France's "No" vote on the EU constitution.

PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR

If there is a constitutional treaty to vote upon, we will have a vote in Britain before ratifying it. But we have to see what happens in the Dutch referendum in a few day's time.

The question being debated by the people of Europe is how do we, in this era of globalisation, make our economies strong and competitive? What is the European social model? How do we ensure we remain prosperous, that our living standards rise?

I think that's a debate we have got to have almost irrespective of what now happens.

FOREIGN SECRETARY JACK STRAW

We don't have a make a decision today about this.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

The appropriate place for that to be announced is to the British Parliament and there will be a statement from me in a week's time when Parliament re-assembles.

(A decision on a referendum is) a matter of judgement for my ministerial colleagues. But I think that (6 June) would be one of the appropriate moments to make that clear.

SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY LIAM FOX

We have already had people from the commission this morning talking about how they interpret the French vote.

What don't they understand (is) 'no is no'.

If the government in this country or the commission try to breathe life into this corpse, then we in Britain we must have a say to deliver the final blow.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER CHARLES KENNEDY

I don't think the government can proceed on the proposed idea of a referendum sometime next year.

We have to look at the institutional changes that are required inescapably to make Europe function - given enlargement - and see how best they can be carried forward, even if the present constitution is dead in the water.

SNP LEADER ALEX SALMOND

With Blair even less popular at home than Chirac has proved to be, he would suffer an even greater humiliation in the polls here if he allowed this matter to progress any further.

He would be a lame duck prime minister - unable to convince the people at home and unable to lead Europe when the UK takes over the presidency of the EU in July.

Progressing with (referendum) plans would be a sign of immense arrogance to the views of the people, even greater arrogance than that which brought us this failed and discredited document in the first place.

It was arrogance by ministers who failed to make vital Scots' issues such as fishing, access to European Courts and subsidiarity of the Scottish Parliament red line issues.

UKIP LEADER ROGER KNAPMAN

Let the British public have a say. We thought we were going into a common market; it's grown into a political union.

And yet the last time we had a vote - and that was thirty years ago - we were told our independence and sovereignty wouldn't be affected. It has been.

The British public need another look at this and a referendum on a far deeper issue than was discussed yesterday.

FORMER TORY CHANCELLOR KEN CLARKE

I always thought a referendum was an unbelievably silly idea and I thought the decision of Tony Blair to hold a referendum was a very weak one.

The political parties and leadership of western Europe have got to readdress this question of their relationships with the public at large: how you get across the positive case for the European Union and the economic as well as the political benefits it brings.

LUCY POWELL, BRITAIN IN EUROPE

It is difficult to continue with the ratification process off the back of the French 'no', and what is also likely to be a 'no' vote in the Netherlands.

We need to have a proper debate about the direction of Europe and how we're going to deal with some of the economic problems, bringing in new countries, whether Turkey should join.

In this country there needs to be some proper resources put into having that debate.

FORMER BLAIR ADVISER SIR STEPHEN WALL

I don't see how we can have (a referendum here).

We'd have a year, at the end of which Tony Blair would say, 'Please vote for this treaty even though the French haven't; if you vote in favour of it the French have got to have another referendum; they will require changes; and those changes are the ones we resisted first time round'.

It's just not real politics.




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