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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
UK 'not on our own' on EU treaty
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair discussed the treaty with French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Tony Blair wants an amended European Union treaty without any elements of a constitution, his spokesman has said.

The comment comes after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he and Mr Blair had reached agreement on the "framework" of a new treaty.

The spokesman said other member states held the same position, adding people should "get out of the mindset that we are on our own on this - we're not".

The treaty is to be discussed at an EU summit later this month.

The PM's spokesman told reporters that the practical problems of an enlarged EU needed to be dealt with in a practical way, and added that there was a long way to go on the detailed negotiations.

Why are the British people not being told what is going on in their name?
Mark Francois
Conservative

Asked about Britain's efforts to safeguard is veto on justice and home affairs, the spokesman said: "What we have always said is that we will not surrender in any way our ability to decide our own justice and home affairs legislation and that remains the case."

'Critical question'

The Conservatives said any agreement which involved the transfer of more powers to the European Union should be put to a referendum.

Shadow Europe minister Mark Francois said he was not impressed with reports of Mr Blair deciding on the EU treaty with Mr Sarkozy, because Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett had told MPs on Thursday - the same day as the two leaders met - that no negotiations had been held.

"Our question is, why are the British people not being told what is going on in their name?" he said on BBC Radio 4's World at One.

"If it transpires that the treaty, when we know the details, involves a further transfer of power from Britain to the European Union then there must be a referendum on that critical question," Mr Francois said.

"Blair is an unpopular prime minister, he is at the fag-end of premiership, he's desperate for a legacy, he's out there negotiating in our name but he won't tell Parliament or the British people what he's actually negotiating about and that's a disgrace."

Rule book

Former Labour minister for Europe, Denis MacShane, said calls for a referendum were part of a "bigger agenda".

"I fear, and I hope I'm not being cynical, that the call for a referendum is because those who've got a bigger agenda, which is to get Britain more and more distant from EU, want a big defeat for Europe.

"They can't call for full withdrawal so the referendum on any new treaty is the next best thing."

He predicted the treaty would not be finalised this summer.

"There'll be 27 member states... all hammering the table saying 'we want this position to be in any new treaty'.

"Europe is working well economically and frankly at times I wish the constitutional debate would go away, but unfortunately we do need a clearer rule book on Europe."


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