Thanks to the ECJBlog I’ve come across this transcript of an interview Jim Murphy, Minister for Europe, commenting on why the Reform Treaty is really very different from the European Constitution. When pressed on the issue – how can the government defend its position when Giscard, plenty of foreign ministers etc. say that the substance of the treaty is the same as the Constitution – Murphy’s response is really quite ridiculous: “…what happened is that the UK has signed up to a specific unique UK version of the treaty”. So the UK’s measly opt-out on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and some aspects of JHA means this treaty is not constitutional in nature for the UK, but, presumably, it still is for the rest of Europe?
What a load of rubbish the government is talking on this issue. The government does not want a poll because it fears it will lose. They opted out of the Charter because it looked like it might give too many rights to British citizens, and oh, as a centre left administration it could not possibly want to improve citizens’ rights. Essentially this is a really dangerous game. If these arguments continue to fester, life will become very tricky for the government. Blair put the past government in a hole by promising a referendum on the constitution, and now the current government is floundering around hoping that the storm will pass. That’s just not good enough.