In an incredible month. The Mail's "Blueprint for Tyranny" (on 8th May) caused ripples, but the real shock waves were caused by the Sun's attack on Blair on 15th May.
Given sustained coverage, voters are forcefully asking why they should be denied a choice: "People are at last waking up to what has been done in their name" noted the Telegraph1. Straw & Hain helpfully remind voters that much of what is in the proposed EU Constitution is in place now - such as the supremacy of EC law2.
With growing calls for a referendum, the reluctant Blair, who has produced 34 referendums since 1997, is looking increasingly exposed. Although he told BBC News that there would be no vote, he conceded to the Sun that there might be one "as a last resort" but it would mean accepting the Constitution or leaving the EU3.
The influential (and accurate) YouGov opinion polls showed a voter backlash.
Voters would rather leave the EU than accept the Constitution by 51%-29%. Only 11% would actually support it. 75% want a referendum4
An earlier poll, very loosely worded, saw 62% wanting Britain to remain "an independent country" with only 28% backing being part of a "larger European state".5
While bamboozling Polish audiences that they have "a common history" (!) with Britain, Blair tells them that we can have a referendum on the Euro as a matter of "constitutional significance" but somehow an EU Constitution would not be!!! 6. Lord Blackwell hopes to amend the constitutional Bill in the Lords and therefore to force a referendum. He seems likely to win7.
But what will the question be?
Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram hypocritically calls for "an honest debate". He misrepresents the issue as "a false choice between surrendering national sovereignty and pulling out of the EU"8.
(The only other 'option' is to stay in the EU without the Constitution, but with 75% of our laws 'made in Europe', and at the mercies of the bureaucrats who can find loopholes around our veto).
Meanwhile debate on the content of the Constitution continues. Frederic Forsyth questioned if entering the Euro was a necessary part of signing up to the new Constitution9. We checked the official drafts and Britain's opt-out is not to be found10. The drafts may, of course, be incomplete, but we need to be vigilant.
The Danish PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is keen to get rid of Denmark's four opt-outs, and their referendum could effectively be a decision on EU membership11.
Alice Thomson queried if a 'solidarity clause' requiring the EU to mobilise all military assets "to prevent a terrorist threat" could mean EU troops in Britain12. Quoting Professor Patrick Minford & David Heathcoat Amory MP (but no more), George Pascoe Watson noted that up to 2 million jobs could be lost after ceding economic policy to the EU13.
While the ridiculous Peter Hain tries to kid us the Constitution is just a bit of tidying-up, LibDem MEP Andrew Duff accused Blair of trying to disguise its serious implications, calling the Charter of Fundamental Rights "profoundly federalising", feeling it would extend the European Court's reach into everyday life14.
Former Italian PM Lamberto Dini similarly accused the Government of deceiving British voters15.
"In 1975, I campaigned for a 'yes' vote that kept us in the EC. In retrospect it is abundantly clear that I campaigned on a prospectus that was sufficiently false to ensure that, if the issue had been a public issue in securities, I would face prosecution under the Companies Act and I would lose.
In 1975, we told voters that we were joining a vigorous free-trade association…"
- former MP Tom Benyon, letter to the Times, 29.5.03 (edited)
The Sun also claims that the EU is after "powers to ensure the security of energy supplies in the EU" (which could affect Britain's oil), and plans to "raid Britain's £600Bn pension pot" and prop up failing pension schemes in Europe16.
Blair has denied that Britain would be forced to give up her seat on the UN Security Council17 but even under the existing Treaty, our representative would have to support any (non-defence) EU foreign policy made without Britain and avoid any action against the interests of the EU18. He has said he is against any 'significant' increase in majority voting (i.e. loss of veto) on defence & foreign policy19.
Look out for 'Vote 2004' - a campaign for a referendum. It is being grafted from the 'no' (anti-Euro) campaign
Worryingly this campaign is said to be "pro-European and in favour of a Constitution". A key aim of the new campaign will be to build support among those people who are committed to deeper integration, but who want to involve people in the process by giving them a chance to vote...20.
Rodney Leach of Jardine Matheson & the European Foundation is said to be involved, and the ad agency used by Business For Sterling, M & C Saatchi, will be "advising on advertising". Yet Lord Saatchi, a Shadow Treasury Minister, warns of a "big country called Europe" and says it'll be a watchdog! (We have requested clarification!)21.
 Times, 28.5.03
 Mail On Sunday, 1.6.03
 YouGov, Telegraph, 15.5.03. (The Populus poll for the Sun recorded 84%).
 Warsaw speech, 30.5.03
 S.Times, 25.5.03
 Tory website,www.conservatives.com, 30.5.03
 News of the World 18.5.03
 Treaty of Nice, Protocol 25 not seen in CONV 722/03-727/03
 Jesper Larsen of national newspaper Berlingske Tidende, quoted BBC News, 2.6.03
 Telegraph, 30.5.03
 Sun, 27.5.03
 Telegraph, 31.5.03
 S.Telegraph, 1.6.03
Warsaw speech, 30.5.03
 Treaty of Nice, CFSP & enhanced co-operation procedure, esp. Art. 11,43
 FT, 19.5.03
www.EUObserver.com & also Mail, 19.5.03
 S.Telegraph, 1.6.03
Date this page compiled: 4 June 2003; updated 22 June 2003.
We acknowledge the contribution of The Sun to encouraging a full public debate and are giving them a free link/ad.