Two Conservative politicians elected by Dorset voters are among those urging for a referendum on a controversial EU reform treaty.
Neil Parish, European parliament minister for the South West with primary responsibility for Dorset, and Sir John Butterfill, MP for Bournemouth West, have both spoken in support of a public vote on the EU reform treaty – or Lisbon Treaty as it is formally called.
The treaty replaces the failed European Constitution of 2005, on which the Government had promised a referendum.
“Mr Parish believes that it is a disgrace that the British people are being denied a referendum by Gordon Brown as it was an election manifesto promise by the Labour Party”, said Dan Dalton, a political assistant to Mr Parish.
Sir John Butterfill similarly said: “Together with my Conservative colleagues, I feel very strongly that the Government should hold a referendum on the new EU Treaty (…) in the modern world, where people want power and control over their lives, to deny them a referendum is a denial of democracy.”
Yet many ministers are arguing there is no need because the treaty only amends the existing EU Constitution rather than making a new one.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg announced yesterday that his party would vote against a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, saving it for whether the UK should be in the EU at all.
What the treaty would really mean for Europe and the UK, let alone Dorset, is not clear.
Mr Dalton said that people in Dorset “can expect to see an EU representative representing Britain in the UN Security Council at times, they can expect to see an EU President and what is in effect a Foreign Secretary speaking on their behalf on international relations.”
On Labour’s website, Europe minister Jim Murphy argued that it would speed up international aid, help tackle climate change and enshrine the rights of children.