Thursday, 4 June 2009

British referendum on EU membership

One of the sad things about the British EU debate is how self-centred it is.

Let us take the Treaty of Lisbon. It has been agreed unanimously between 27 governments and approved by 26 national parliaments. It is the expression of what our governments and parliaments want the European Union to be. With Ireland pending, the reform treaty is fully legitimate.

If a new government changes tack in a country, which has already formally ratified the Lisbon Treaty, I expect the government to act in a responsible manner.

Wrecking the Lisbon Treaty, against the will of the other EU member states, is callous and abrasive in the extreme.

If the British want to change course, they should act in the manner least destructive to their European partners and to themselves.

The fundamental question is if Britain wants to be a member of the European Union, or if it wants to withdraw. If that requires a referendum, so be it. The question is simple: In or out?

The UK government of the day would then have a clear mandate either way, without wreaking havoc among the countries which see European integration as a constructive team effort.

The Conservative Party has tabled the wrong Referendum Bill.

Ralf Grahn