A sense that all is still to play for concerning the referendum on The EU Constitutional Treaty of Lisbon is raised by further remarks from Michael Connarty, chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee which has awoken to the fact that Westminster may be subordinated to Brussels by this odious Treaty.

David Chamberband may come shortly to regret his petulant display a few weeks ago before this committee (not least when shamelessly playing the anti-semitic card to deflect the committee’s attack) as the committee expresses a lack of conviction that the position of Westminster will be safeguarded under the Treaty, as well they might.

Their concern is said to be that the Treaty was set out in terms where a “legal obligation can be inferred” and that there was “a danger of EU national parliaments becoming ‘marginalised’ ”. The BBC’s report continues:

[The Committee] expressed alarm that ministers had failed to secure an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, saying a UK Protocol would not excuse Britain from the need to comply with rulings by the European Court of Justice.

Mr Connarty, who is a Labour MP, added that Britain’s “opt-ins” on justice and home affairs matters would also surrender jurisdiction from the UK courts, while choosing not to opt in would present “new and unquantifiable risks”.

“Despite expressing our deep concerns that the government argue boldly for a form of words that would put the sovereignty of the UK Parliament beyond doubt, there is still ambiguity in the draft treaty on whether a legal obligation is being imposed on Parliament in respect of its proceedings.

“This is not an area in which any ambiguity is tolerable, and we look to the government to deliver on its undertaking.”

In the present circumstances of a collapsing government, one is inclined to wonder if, when a vote on a referendum comes before the Commons on an amendment to the Treaty Ratification Bill, the threat of a defeat in the house might make Brown concede rather than allow his weak and failing government to be defeated on a matter where he has dug his heels in. Certainly further intransigence in this matter is simply going to emphasise the dishonest and disreputable nature of Brown personally and of his administration at a time when such emphasis is needed by him like a hole in the head.

If Labour MPs want to restore something of their party’s shabby and shoddy reputation, they could do no worse than insist that their weak and ailing Prime Minister now uphold the 2005 commitment to hold a referendum.

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