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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 14:22 GMT
Screen stars back EU vote demands
Joan Collins
Collins is among the list of famous supporters
Joan Collins and Joanna Lumley are among the famous faces signed up for the campaign for a referendum on Europe's proposed new constitution.

The Vote 2004 campaign group has unveiled a list of more than 100 high profile backers, including bishops, actors, generals and industry chiefs.

Talks on the draft constitution stalled last December but the group says it expects the issue to reignite soon.

Ministers say the plans are not the kind of issue needing a public vote.

Among the other famous names on the Vote 2004 list are Big Issue founder John Bird, author Jilly Cooper, Gulf War commander Sir Peter de la Billiere and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

Joanna Lumley
Absolutely Fabulous star Lumley is lending her support
Ex-Carlton television boss Michael Green and Ottakar's books chairman Philip Dunne are among the campaign's supporters from the business world.

Vote 2004's Neil O'Brien told BBC News Online some of those on the list would be used in advertising campaigns later this year.

"It's all part of generally building up our campaign, which will be running through this year," he said.

"Our view is that the constitution issue has not gone away and is likely to come back fairly soon."

Ian Hislop
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has joined the vote campaign
He pointed to the fact that the constitution was set to feature in talks between Tony Blair and his French and German counterparts Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin on Wednesday.

The referendum group is unveiling a giant advertisement at near the Brandenburg Gate to try and highlight their demands.

Mr O'Brien denied the campaign was a fashion parade of celebrity supporters, saying it spanned much further than the showbusiness world.

"It is not very poptastic or glossy," he said. "It reflects a very broad coalition of interests, which is the point we are making. It's people from all walks of life who want a referendum."

Talks collapse

Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeatedly rejected demands for a public vote on the constitution.

He says referendums should only be held when there is a fundamental constitutional change - and he says that will not happen if the constitution comes into effect.

December's summit on the issue collapsed in deadlock when EU leaders failed to resolve disputes over the system of voting rights.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw played down the importance which would be given to the constitution on Wednesday's talks in Berlin.

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