John Redwood presses for referendum on Lisbon Treaty

Speaking in the European affairs debate in the House of Commons yesterday, John Redwood called for democracy to apply to the United Kingdom and pressed the Government to hold the referendum on the European Constitution, otherwise known as the Lisbon Treaty, that they promised in their last manifesto. John also said the Shadow Foreign Secretary should send message to countries that haven’t yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty, such as Poland, asking them to hold off on ratification until a future Conservative Government has the opportunity to put the treaty to the British people in a referendum.

The full text of John’s contributions, taken from Hansard, now follows:

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The Foreign Secretary mentioned democracy: may we have some in Europe? Why do the Irish have to vote again, when their verdict was very clear? Why cannot we have a vote in Britain? And what did he not understand about the Eurosceptic majority in the European elections?

David Miliband: I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has brought me on to this topic, because there is unfinished institutional business in the European Union. Since the Irish people voted no in their referendum on the Lisbon treaty on 12 June last year, the Irish Government have been deciding on their next move. In December, the European Council agreed, on the basis of Irish proposals, that the EU would give Ireland the legal guarantees it wanted on the issues of concern to its electorate. In December, as the Prime Minister reported to the House, the European Council conclusions set out what the Irish guarantees will cover—no change in EU competence on tax; no prejudice to national security and defence policy; and guarantees on provisions in the Irish constitution on the right to life. The December conclusions also record the high importance attached to the issues, including workers’ rights.
There are now detailed Irish proposals for these commitments to be agreed as legal guarantees, for a declaration by the European Council on workers’ rights and social policy, and for a national declaration by Ireland. We are assessing these texts against the two objectives that we have consistently set out to Parliament and to EU partners. The first is to ensure that the Lisbon treaty comes into force on the basis of support in all 27 member states. To do that, the EU collectively has to address the concerns of the Irish people to the mutual satisfaction of Ireland and other member states. The second is to ensure that the content of the Lisbon treaty as it affects the UK is not changed.

Mr. Redwood: I am grateful to the shadow Foreign Secretary for giving way. Will he use this opportunity to send a message to countries that have not yet ratified the Lisbon treaty? The message is that a future Conservative Government would hold an immediate referendum, and that the British people would be very likely to veto the treaty for them—so countries should hang on and not ratify, to give us the chance to do what they want us to do.

Mr. Hague: Those countries must make their own decisions; it is not for us to dictate to them what their decision must be. However, my right hon. Friend is correct in his description of the situation. The Lisbon treaty referendum, which all parties promised at the last general election, will certainly be implemented if the treaty remains unratified and is still on the table at the time of the next general election.


  1. Michael
    June 17, 2009

    Well done, John. I must admit though, the fudging of the issue by the Conservative Party with regards to what would happen if the treaty had already been ratified if and when they got into government is losing them alot of followers. Indeed, they are beginning to be perceived as equally as devious and disingenuous as the other parties who decided against holding a referendum at all. I really hope this is addressed; no-one would want to see it eat away at the Conservative vote in the next election, though I strongly suspect it will.

    1. Dr Bernard Juby
      June 18, 2009

      I agree entirely. One of the reasons why I am currently still a disaffected Tory. Hague’s words are somewhat weasilly. We want a Referendum irrespective of whether it can be said to have been approved by the other Member States. Most have been rail-roaded through their parliaments, despite three nation’s public “NOs” the German Constitutional Court and the Czech President’s stout defence of democracy! There are too many vested interests with their snouts buried in the Brussells trough. It’s time Cameron came off the fence (should I say hedge or fudge) and gave a clear signal that we won’t have it unless the nation agrees via Referendum. Only then will I consider voting Condervative again.

  2. oldrightie
    June 17, 2009

    An excellent reminder that manifesto pledges for Labour mean squat diddly. So if they say we shall spend, spend, spend, they mean, really, cut, cut, cut! What a despicable shower they are.

  3. Mike Stallard
    June 17, 2009

    (I am afraid that I accidentally posted this by mistake on the last thread).
    To me, the suggestion that Japan should become part of China is as ridiculous as Great Britain becoming part of Europe. We are just different. Should Sri Lanka become part of India? What about Singapore and Malaysia? Or Canada/Mexico and USA? Malta and North Africa?
    Geography and political union are not the same thing at all.
    The EU has its own Commission and also its own very corrupt and clever bureaucracy run by expert tacticians who will stop at nothing to get their own way.
    The parliament, of course, is a sham.
    To my mind, the problem is Coreper which is the place where each nation haggles for its own. In there, the decisions are taken, at least in theory, by all the nations together. Once Coreper has agreed to something, then all the nations have already agreed that they will enact it as law.
    In that sense, the EU really is democratic in that each nation has its own chance to discuss things. And Coreper really does provide a meeting place for all the nations of Europe just as the Europhiles want.
    I am, myself, therefore, coming round to the view that Nick Clegg is right. We ought to have a referendum on whether to stay or leave. There really do not seem to be any other sensible alternatives.

  4. A.Healy
    June 17, 2009

    Mr.Redwood ,

    Thank you for raising this crucial matter in the House .
    Mr. Hague’s reply is , however , only a cause for partial satisfaction .

    I was very pleased with the “will certainly be implemented” part .
    It was the “if the treaty remains unratified” clause which left me cold .

    We know that this discredited government will hang on until the last possible moment . We also know that it’s survival has only been made possible by the intervention of the arch-eurocrats Mandelson and the Kinnocks .

    If their plan is to cling to power solely in order to subject this country to the Lisbon Treaty , what will be the response of the Party which we both love , a Party , let us remember , whose primary appeal is to the patriotism of the electorate ?

    Thank you , again .

    1. Mike Stallard
      June 18, 2009

      “Taking advantage of an arrangement whereby Commission officials were able to have their salaries adjusted according to the cost of living of their own country, he (Kinnock) had been able to add another 20% to his annual pay. This concession had originally been intended for those who had to work in Brussels but, with young families or other problems, had to maintain dependents in their home countries, and thus might suffer unfairly by coming under the Belgian regime.
      For a man whose two grown up children had already left home, and had no need to maintain any dependents in the UK, the concession seemed unnecessary. Indeed, for someone already enjoying a free, chauffeur driven car, an entertainment allowance of £7,000 a year, a £24,000 a year housekeeping allowance, and whose MEP wife – on £55,000 a year and up to £115,000 in expenses – was in any case living with him in Brussels, this extra perk seemed, even to Commission officials, a teensy bit greedy.”
      Marta Andreasen, “Brussels laid Bare” p. 86.

  5. GV
    June 17, 2009

    Thank you, Mr R, for continuing to speak out on behalf of those of us who want the promised referendum – the words ‘head’ & ‘brick wall’ spring to mind.

    Whilst I appreciate the need for Parliamentary courtesies in the HoC (and would be saddened to see this aspect ‘modernised’) language is often couched in ambiguous terms. May I take it that Hague’s assertion that “other countries must make their own decisions” is a Parliamentary-speak invitation to Poland, Germany, Czech Republic et al to withhold their ratification until the Conservative Party are in government and the promised UK referendum held?

    (btw my solution to ‘parliamentary-speak’ is not to dumb down the HoC but to educate people in its ways).

  6. Denis Cooper
    June 17, 2009

    “The second is to ensure that the content of the Lisbon treaty as it affects the UK is not changed.”

    The content of an international treaty has to be exactly the same for all the contracting parties, down to the last comma.

    As Parliament was very clearly told with reference to the Lisbon Treaty – Parliament could make no amendments whatsoever to the treaty; it would have to be approved, or not, exactly as it was when it had been signed by the EU leaders.

    True, the treaty may give one of the countries a special exemption in relation to certain of its provisions, but that exemption itself must be part of the treaty, exactly the same treaty for that country and for all the other countries which ratify it.

    In this context, a “protocol” attached to an EU treaty is an integral part of that treaty, and has the same legally binding force as the main text – for example, Protocol 25 attached to the present EU treaties, which allows the UK to “opt out” of joining the euro – while a “declaration” attached to an EU treaty is no more than a statement of a political intention, and has no more legal force than an election manifesto.

    So if the Irish government secures “guarantees” that the Lisbon Treaty will not operate in certain ways, either those “guarantees” become part of the treaty and change its legal content, in which case they’re legally binding once all the member states have ratified them, or they don’t become part of the treaty and they don’t change its legal content and so they don’t need to be ratified by all the member states, in which case they’re not legally binding.

    It’s perfectly clear – amendments to the EU treaties do not come into legal force just by being signed by the representatives of the member states, they have to then be ratified by all of the member states “in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements”.

    Eg, Article 48 TEU on page 34 here:

    “The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    1. Mike Stallard
      June 18, 2009

      I do not think you understand the workings of the EU at all. You are so utterly right, logical and sensible. But – hey – this isn’t a place where all that counts. Reading through “Brussels laid Bare” by Marta Andreasen, you see a system where the law is used by officials to get their own way – in her case hiding the grand theft of funds – at the expense of truth and justice. She, by the way, was the Chief Accountant for the EU!
      Isn’t the very idea of asking the Irish for another referendum a good enough example of that anyway?

      1. Denis Cooper
        June 18, 2009

        Yes, they’re a bunch of hypocrites.

        If you look at the draft text of the “guarantees”, here:

        you’ll find this passage:

        “The Union’s action on the international scene is guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.”

        But none of that necessarily applies to the Union’s action within the Union.

      2. alan jutson
        June 18, 2009

        Yes, Marta Andreason was sensible and consise with some interesting facts on Question Time as well, a few weeks ago.

        Think I may get rather angry with the scale of the gross incompetence and huge waste of money, if I was to read her book.

        I guess you must only be reading a few pages at a time in order to protect your blood pressure.

        No wonder she was sacked for refusing to sign off the Accounts, but she is now back to haunt them in the Form of a UKIP MEP.

        I look forward to some more interestings facts from this lady.

  7. Amanda
    June 17, 2009

    Thank you John.

  8. Denis Cooper
    June 18, 2009

    President Klaus is insisting that the Irish “guarantees” must be subject to the full ratification process in the Czech Republic:

    If it’s intended that this new international agreement should in any way modify the Lisbon Treaty, or have the potential to modify its operation or application, then he’s perfectly correct.

    Under their own terms, the EU treaties can’t be touched by another agreement which has been signed by the representatives of the member states, but not fully ratified.

    On the other hand, if it’s really intended that this new agreement shall have no legal effect, so that the ECJ could simply set it aside if it conflicted with the treaties, or the EU leaders could later decide to sign another document to revoke it, then the Irish should be told that they’ll be voting for a second time on exactly the same treaty.

  9. Adrian Peirson
    June 18, 2009

    I don’t want a referendum, I want our Politicians to uphold the Law, the surrender of British Sovereignty is an act of Treason.

    Our MP’s should stop Breaking the Law or face arrest.

  10. alan jutson
    June 18, 2009


    Thank you for raising this issue and attempting to keep it alive.

    Many many Conservatives think this issue is important.

  11. jameshigham
    June 19, 2009

    I’m looking for a definitive list of MPs who did NOT sign Lisbon. Is there some way to find this?

    Reply: Conservatives were on a 3 line whip to vote against Lisbon, whilst the Lib/Labs were whipped to vote for it. Hansard recorded the votes.

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