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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 19:53 GMT
MPs consider fallout from EU vote



The views given by political figures on whether a referendum should be held on ratifying the Lisbon Treaty:

GORDON BROWN, PRIME MINISTER

If this was a constitutional treaty, we would hold a referendum. If there was a vote on a euro, we would hold a referendum. But the constitutional concept was abandoned and that's why the nine countries who proposed a referendum, including Ireland, are not having a referendum.

DAVID CAMERON, CONSERVATIVE LEADER

All three political parties made a promise to our constituents for a vote on the constitution. When we turn round and say you can't have it any more, it's no wonder people feel cheated and cynical because promises made are promises being broken.

NICK CLEGG, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER

The prime minister once said that he would build a wider pro-European movement in Britain. How does he think he's going to achieve that? By colluding with the anti-European Conservatives to block the in-out-referendum that the British people really want?

CAROLINE LUCAS, GREEN PARTY CO-PRINCIPAL SPEAKER

The Treaty of Lisbon is essentially a repackaging of the old Constitution. I don't oppose the principle of a constitution. But I oppose this particular one (and the treaty which reproduces it) because EU citizens deserve better. While the Treaty of Lisbon includes some positive measures, in my view these are outweighed by negative ones - the further militarisation of the EU, for example, as well as measures to promote greater economic liberalisation and privatisation. Worse, it squanders a unique opportunity to put sustainability and climate security genuinely at the heart of the Union.

DAVID MILIBAND, FOREIGN SECRETARY

The question before us is simple. Do the contents of the treaty constitute a shift in the balance of power? The answer is no. The responsibility is ours as MPs. Vote down the amendments and let's do what we are paid for.

WILLIAM HAGUE, SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY

It (a 2003 newspaper article in which Nick Clegg said not holding a referendum would show "that we do not have the cojones" to take the argument to the people) may be an explanation of why the Liberal Democrat leadership protests over the course of these debates have become ever more shrill.... At some point in recent months they have become separated from their cojones. These unfortunate objects are to be found impaled on a distant fence.

What has really changed between Tony Blair standing at the despatch box and saying let battle be joined in a referendum in April 2004 and the current Prime Minister saying let battle be avoided at any cost and please don't let me be photographed at the signing ceremony? Two things have changed - the general election of 2005 was got out of the way and the government have decided that a referendum cannot be held because they do not think they would win it.

EDWARD DAVEY, LIB DEM FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN

One treaty simply was of supreme constitutional significance, the other treaty simply makes modest reforms. One treaty replaced all the past EU treaties in one document, the other is merely an amending treaty. One treaty would have effectively given people a chance to vote on the principle of Britain's membership of the EU, the other would give people the chance to vote on whether they want to cut the number of EU commissioners by a third.

KEN CLARKE, FORMER CONSERVATIVE CHANCELLOR

I'm likely to be voting with you [Mr Miliband] tonight but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to agree with any of the arguments you are using in favour of that proposition... Will you stop all this nonsense about it being different from the constitution, because it is plainly the same in substance, and explain why it is better not to have a referendum but have it decided in parliament. You are getting into trouble because of the deviousness and, at times, ridiculousness, of the arguments you are using.

IAN DAVIDSON, LABOUR MP

Abandoning our proposal for a referendum, because there's nuanced differences and because somebody's prepared to argue that this doesn't actually mean the same as that, is giving out entirely the wrong message. We are confirming the view that we, the political class, cannot be trusted.

STEPHEN BYERS, FORMER LABOUR CABINET MINISTER

The point many Members are failing to recognise is this: the manifesto we put together was absolutely clear where we spoke specifically about the new constitutional treaty. And it was the new constitutional treaty that we made a commitment we would have a vote on. We did not have in mind the Lisbon Treaty we are now discussing.

JO SWINSON, LIB DEM FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESWOMAN

Would they rather have referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon only or would they also rather have a referendum on actually the main issue of in or out of Europe? People prefer that two to one. That's the debate the British people are having.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH, FORMER TORY LEADER

How can you have a principled position to sit on a fence? You get splinters in your arse and then you get into trouble. They[Liberal Democrats] are in trouble right now and they should get off the fence.

DEREK SCOTT, I WANT A REFERENDUM CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN

Labour MPs who voted with their conscience and against the government deserve congratulations, as do the Liberal Democrats who kept their promise. Those MPs who voted to deny their constituents a say should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

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