Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 17:35 UK

Cameron attacks Brown over treaty

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown attended the EU summit on 19 and 20 June

David Cameron has accused the prime minister of "letting down" Britain, Ireland and Europe by failing to declare the EU Lisbon Treaty "dead".

He said Gordon Brown had joined fellow EU leaders at their recent summit in "bullying" the Irish who rejected the treaty in a referendum.

Mr Brown said it was the Irish who said "they wanted time to discuss this matter in their own country".

He said the Tories were "isolated" in their "perverse view of Europe".

The heated exchanges came as the prime minister reported back to MPs the outcome of the EU summit in Brussels.

'Failure to show leadership'

Mr Cameron said the PM could have "done the difficult thing and declared the treaty dead" or "the easy thing and join others in starting the process of bullying Ireland into a second referendum".

That's half truths, ignoring democracy, breaking promises - shutting people out when they should be given a say. Can you get any more old politics than that?
David Cameron

"Isn't it the case that in taking the latter path, you have let down the people of Ireland, you've let down Britain and you've let down Europe?" he asked Mr Brown.

British governments, whatever their political persuasion had "never wanted a European constitution with a European president, a European foreign minister and a European diplomatic service", he said.

"Even Tony Blair was clear when the process started in saying he didn't want a constitution," he said.

"So why, when the only people who were given the chance to speak say 'no' do you fail to show any leadership?

"Even Tony Blair was better than this."

The Conservative Party are increasingly isolated in this perverse view of Europe that blames everything on Europe when Europe is delivering many great things for the British people
Gordon Brown

He said it was "simply untrue" for Mr Brown to say the treaty was "absolutely essential for enlargement".

"You say that if the treaty was killed off, we would be isolated in Europe too...but isn't that wrong too? On our side, against this steady creation of a European state are the Dutch voters, the French voters and now the Irish voters.

"You have brought back a constitution, pretending it's a new treaty; taking part in the bullying of a small country that has voted against it; insisting on driving through this treaty and not allowing the British people a say on it.

"That's half truths, ignoring democracy, breaking promises - shutting people out when they should be given a say. Can you get any more old politics than that?"

Mr Brown replied that the Irish leader Brian Cowen had reported to the summit that Ireland "wanted time to discuss this matter in their country".

Respect call

"They said they wanted to report to the European Council - it's for the Irish to make their position known.

"The Irish government made it clear that they were not seeking to persuade other countries not to ratify the treaty and that is why you are isolated in Europe when you say that European governments are with you."

He said Mr Cameron should respect the fact that both the Commons and the Lords had voted in support of the treaty through the EU Amendment Bill, which was given Royal Assent last week.

Nearly 60% of British trade is with Europe and nearly three million jobs depend on its membership of the European Union, he said.

"The Conservative Party are not only isolated in Europe, they are increasingly isolated in this perverse view of Europe that blames everything on Europe when Europe is delivering many great things for the British people."

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asked Mr Brown to give some assurance that "the treaty's fate will be sealed one way or another" at the next EU summit in October, to ensure "it will not be pitched into months of further uncertainty".

The prime minister replied that it was in the hands of the Irish to "come to us with their views on what can be done".



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