Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Last Row

It seems that predictions of trouble at Tony Blair's last act as Prime Minister being a major EU negotiation have been borne out. Geoff Hoon, the Europe Minister and noted Brown loyalist, has suggested that an unfavourable outcome from the forthcoming Brussels summit could lead to a referendum in Britain before any agreement is finally ratified. As the Daily Telegraph puts it:
Both Downing Street and officials representing Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, reacted furiously, believing Mr Hoon was suggesting that Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett may meekly sell out British interests in a cowardly late-night deal at the summit.
The threat seems to be that if Beckett and Blair land Brown with any kind of political problem then there will be a referendum. Since that would almost certainly see both the then PM Gordon Brown and the Conservative opposition advocating a 'No' vote then such a referendum would almost certainly be lost. So, what Brown is saying via Hoon is that he reserves the right to abrogate any deal that he doesn't like. This puts Blair in a pretty humiliating position when it comes to actually trying to conduct negotiations with the other EU leaders. No wonder he is miffed, but he only has himself to blame. He shouldn't be out representing Britain at negotiations for a binding treaty with only 5 days left on the job, and if he is then he should have squared his position away with the incoming Prime Minister. That Brown feels that he has to do this says all that needs to be said about the working relationship between the two men who have been running our country for the last 10 years.

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