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(03/18/08) -

Some Britons Would Vote on EU Membership

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – More than a third of adults in Britain want to hold both a referendum on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and a vote on whether their country should remain in the European Union (EU), according to a poll by Populus published in The Times. 36 per cent of respondents think the government should allow the people to express their opinion on both issues.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – More than a third of adults in Britain want to hold both a referendum on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and a vote on whether their country should remain in the European Union (EU), according to a poll by Populus published in The Times. 36 per cent of respondents think the government should allow the people to express their opinion on both issues.

Additionally, 18 per cent of respondents think there should be a vote on whether or not to approve the latest EU treaty, while 16 per cent want a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, but not on the Lisbon Treaty. Roughly one-in-five respondents think there is no need for a vote related to the EU at this point.

EU heads of state officially signed the European Constitution on Oct. 29, 2004. The project for a continental body of law was practically abandoned in 2005, after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the proposed document in two plebiscites.

In October 2007, leaders of the 27 EU member nations reached an agreement on the Lisbon Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Lisbon Treaty provisions call for the creation of new posts, such as a foreign policy chief, and a High Representative who will answer to EU governments and serve as vice-president of the European Commission. The Charter will become legally binding in all EU member states except Britain, which negotiated an exemption.

The EU leaders would also choose a president of the European Council for a two and a half year renewable term. This will effectively eliminate the current six-month rotating presidency among member nations. The Lisbon Treaty also provides for the creation of a mutual defence clause, in case one of the member states is attacked.

If all countries ratify the treaty—whether through a referendum or a parliamentary vote—it will become effective in January 2009. Ireland, due to its internal regulations, is the only country that must hold a nationwide vote on the Lisbon Treaty, while other governments can decide whether they want to do the same.

In December 2007, British prime minister Gordon Brown—the Labour party leader—signed the Lisbon Treaty on behalf of Britain.

On Mar. 13, the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, fined four British lawmakers for having participated in protests against the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights last December. Roger Helmer, Jim Allister, Roger Knapman, and Godfrey Bloom protested against EU leaders when they signed the Charter, which Britain will not adopt.

Bloom—a member of the United Kingdom Independence Party—defended his actions, saying, "A quarter of a million people voted for me to protest against the EU and I’m not going to stop doing that because a few Euro-nationalists decide to take away my pocket money."

Polling Data

Which of the following is closest to your view?

There should be a referendum on whether or not to approve the latest EU treaty

18%

There should be a referendum on whether or not Britain should stay in the EU, but not on the EU treaty

16%

There should be a referendum on both whether or not Britain should stay in the EU, and on whether or not to approve the EU treaty

36%

There is no need for any referendum relating to the EU at the present time

19%

Don’t know / Refuse

10%

Source: Populus / The Times
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,502 British adults, conducted from Mar. 7 to Mar. 9, 2008. No margin of error was provided.