[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
UK 'prepared to block EU treaty'
Margaret Beckett
Mrs Beckett and Mr Blair will attend the EU summit in Brussels
The UK will block any unsatisfactory deal in this week's EU treaty negotiations, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has said.

She told MPs that "the UK government is clear... no deal is better than buying any old pig in a poke".

There were "significant differences" between nations on what should replace the aborted constitution, she said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he will not compromise in areas including foreign policy and tax and benefits.

On Monday, Mr Blair listed four so-called "red lines" that the UK government would not cross, also including a Charter of Fundamental Rights and EU-wide legislation on common law.

It does seem the British government has largely got its own way, although there's a lot of detail to be settled

Mrs Beckett told the House of Commons: "We want an EU that takes action where it's needed on issues like climate security, economic reform or energy and leaves national government in charge of key areas including taxes, foreign policy, defence and their domestic economy."

The government says it will not agree to any treaty that would require a referendum but the Conservatives say the transfer of any power to the EU would require a public vote.

The summit on Thursday and Friday is expected to go to the wire as the 27 member states wrangle over how much of the constitution rejected by voters in France and Holland in 2005 should be revived.

"The people of those countries have spoken and the leaders of Europe have to take heed," Mrs Beckett said.

Constitution elements

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the government should have argued for a different kind of union following the rejection of the constitution.

But it had "buried its head in the sand", he said, allowing the constitution to re-emerge under a different name.

Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency, has aimed to put core elements of the aborted constitution at the heart of a new agreement.

Meanwhile France and Spain have proposed a 10-point document backing an expansion of EU powers.

Greater integration had "never been the wish of the people of the UK", Mr Hague said.

He added: "If there is a new treaty, we are clear there must be a referendum."

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific