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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Straw sees 'no point' in EU vote
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw with Luxembourg foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn
Mr Straw made the announcement in the House of Commons
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there is "no point" in pursuing plans for a referendum on the EU constitution after France and the Netherlands voted "No".

He told MPs the government had decided to postpone any moves towards a poll.

France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder say they want the ratification process to continue.

Conservative shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox described them as "political dinosaurs" and urged Mr Straw to "declare this constitution dead".

Dr Fox called on the government to now completely abandon plans to hold a referendum.

I can tell a corpse when I see one and this constitution is a case for the morgue if ever I saw one - this is a dead constitution
Liam Fox
Shadow foreign secretary

He said the constitution, which had been "comprehensively rejected" by France and the Netherlands was "bad for Britain and bad for Europe".

"Yet, the political dinosaurs at the helm in France and Germany and the army of Eurocrats whose careers depend on the gravy train act as though nothing has happened.

"What is it about 'no' they don't understand?

"I may no longer practice medicine, but I can tell a corpse when I see one and this constitution is a case for the morgue if ever I saw one - this is a dead constitution," he told MPs.

EU heads of government will try to find some way out of the crisis when they gather in Brussels on 16 June for a summit.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Straw said it was not for the UK alone to decide the future of the treaty.

'Kill it off'

But it remained the government's view "that it represents a sensible new set of rules for the enlarged European Union", he said.

"We reserve completely the right to bring back the bill providing for a UK referendum should circumstances change," he said.

"But we see no point in proceeding at this moment."

The EU now faces "a period of difficulty", he said.

As a result of the French and Dutch votes, the treaty will have to be amended before it can be ratified
Tony Green, Ipswich, UK

"In working in our own interests, and the Union's interests, we must not act in a way which undermines the EU's strengths and the achievements of five decades."

Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who helped to orchestrate vote after vote against his own side on the Maastricht Bill in 1992 and 1993, argued that if the treaty was not dead, the British people should be allowed a vote to "kill it off".

Labour left-winger Dennis Skinner urged Mr Straw to send the EU leaders a copy of Monty Pythons Dead Parrot sketch, saying the treaty was "deceased, it's kaput - it is no more".

The Conservatives' most senior pro-European, Kenneth Clarke, said it was "common sense" not to reintroduce the bill or to ratify the treaty.

He urged Mr Straw to tell the other governments to "forget about rule changes" and to live with the treaties of Nice and others "and to get on with the real business of the union".

Staying put?

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, an ex-Labour MP and close confidant of Tony Blair, said he would like the British government to "hold fire" on any decision until after the summit.

But he said the challenges of trying to revive the constitution gave Mr Blair a "fresh calling" and predicted it would allow him to stay on as prime minister for two or three more years.

A French spokesman said Britain would bear "great responsibility" for finding a way out of the crisis when it took over the rotating presidency of the EU on 1 July.

Watch Jack Straw's statement on the EU treaty

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