Tories Attack 'Rushed' EU Treaty
BBC News Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007
The Conservatives have accused Prime Minster Gordon Brown of trying to push the "unreadable" revised EU treaty through "on the quiet".
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said there would be only nine Parliamentary days after MPs' summer holiday to discuss the treaty.
He said: "I think in a way [he] wants to get this out of the way with as little public attention as possible."
The government has rejected Tory calls for a referendum on the treaty.
The Conservatives say the EU treaty is almost identical to the failed EU constitution so the government must keep the promise they made to hold a referendum on that document.
But the government insists the treaty is different because all mention of a constitution has been dropped.
Speaking earlier at a press conference, Mr Hague sought to disprove the government's claims, quoting the Spanish foreign minister who said 98% of the content of the constitution is in the new draft.
Mr Hague claims the treaty would make Britain's voice in the world less important and could usher in an era where EU judges decide more of our law.
He said the government is trying not to attract attention to the treaty, but a public vote must be granted.
The government says that although dozens of vetoes are being given up, the treaty does not transfer major powers to the EU.
Mr Hague hit back at claims by Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the Conservative Party was returning to its "old agenda" of focussing on Europe.
If an early election was called by Mr Brown, an EU treaty referendum would be key to the Conservatives campaign.
"Upholding the commitment to a referendum on the EU constitution will obviously feature in the campaign in any early election.
"By all the standards of the past the commitment to a referendum should be upheld."
Among Conservative concerns were the creation of a European Union president and a "high representative" acting as a foreign minister.
Mr Hague said the revised treaty would lessen the UK's sovereignty, losing vetoes in about 60 policy areas, with the union being given the legal status to sign international treaties.
Launching a pamphlet explaining the treaty in "plain English", Mr Hague suggested that the document had been made deliberately "unreadable" to hinder opposition.