Tuesday 9 October 2007

European Scrutiny Committee: the "reform treaty" is the constitution

I see that the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has added its voice to the chorus of those, both pro and anti-EU, who say that the new EU "reform treaty" is in reality no different from the old EU constitution. You know, the EU constitution that Labour promised to give us a referendum on? According to the committee, 438 of the 440 provisions in the reform treaty were also in the constitution. They added that the extent to which powers were to be handed over to the EU under the terms of the (not a) constitution was "objectionable".

In proclaiming the reform treaty and the constitution to be one and the same, the members of the (Labour-dominated) Commons European Scrutiny Committee join a proud list of luminaries who have made the same discovery. These include Valery Giscard d'Estaing (former French president), Margot Walstrom (European Commissioner), Bertie Ahern (Irish Taioseach), Jose Zapatero (Spanish prime minister), Angela Merkel (German chancellor), Gisela Stuart (Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston), and a variety of (strongly pro-EU) MEPs. None of these people are exactly arch-Eurosceptics, are they? They simply acknowledge what is an obvious truth. Hell, even the uber-liberal Guardian journalist Jackie Ashley recognises that the reform treaty is "overwhelmingly similar" to the constitution, and, in consequence of this, has called for a referendum.

And who, on the other hand, denies that the reform treaty is simply the constitution by another name? Well, members of the government, and some of the more credulous members of the Labour Party. That's about it.
The government may continue in its pretence that the reform treaty is significantly different from the constitution. Indeed, at this point, having put so much time and effort into their lies, it's difficult to see how they could drop the pretence without having to make the disastrous acknowledgement that they have been deliberately deceiving the public for months. Like Macbeth, the government is:
...in blood/Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more/Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Nonetheless, return the government must. They have committed themselves to holding a referendum on the EU constitution, and with every passing week comes fresh evidence that the reform treaty is the constitution in all but name. To do otherwise than hold a referendum now would not only be a failure to honour an election commitment; it would be tantamount to treason.

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