The behaviour of a government will, inevitably, be viewed principally through the prism of its leader and one may rightly expect the tone of its conduct to be set by the personal conduct of that leader.

We should not be surprised, in the coming months and years, to see the routine use of the lie, the half-lie, the dissemblance, disingenuousness, deception, evasion and economy with the truth by every member of this Government for Gordon Brown is fast becoming the biggest liar ever to head Her Majesty’s Government, exceeding in just two and a bit months the lofty heights of dishonesty to which his immediate predecessor (his name was Tony Blair, in case those of you who had been taken in by his airbrushing from the record had forgotten) had taken ten years to climb.

This is a specimen of the example that the leader of Her Majesty’s Government now sets, not just to his Ministers, but to all in public life.

All and sundry were assured by Brown that we did not need a Referendum on the Constitutional Treaty Mark II because, inter alia, an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights had been negotiated and that it would not apply to the UK. The Unions, which want more Europe not less on this issue, have been threatening to join the Referendum campaign because of this opt-out. Now Brown feels himself forced to turn around and assert that in fact we did not opt out of the Charter. (See the Daily Telegraph )

Ministers now concede that the Charter will apply to Britain when implementing all Brussels legislation – including EU employment and social protection laws. Dropping the term “opt-out” altogether, the Government will in future stress that the Charter will create no new rights anywhere in the EU and cannot be used to overturn current trade union legislation in Britain.

Let us be quite clear about this: when Ministers said we had an opt out, and several did so after it had been pointed out to them that (as they now concede) the Charter would apply fully to the UK, they did not do so out of ignorance or negligence. They knew what the position was and chose to tell a deliberate lie to the British people about it.

The lie itself is a sign of this Government’s bare-faced approach to the truth, but it is the sheer blatancy of it and the lack of any remorse for it which is so striking.

There can be no better argument for a referendum, regardless of what other states might do, than that the Government behaves as dishonest, dishonourable shysters in their dealings with the British people concerning this damaging treaty.