Friday, September 10, 2004

And now for something completely… similar

Some of the reaction to the White Paper is filtering in via the media, all of which makes for entertaining reading.

Courtesy of the Guardian, press agencies and others, shadow foreign secretary, Michael Ancram, tells us: "I had hoped that with this white paper, we would see the start of an honest and open debate, instead this document is simply an extended piece of New Labour spin, full of claims that do not stack up".

"Tony Blair won't even admit that he used to be against an EU constitution in the first place. The fact is that the constitution will take huge powers away from Britain and give them to Brussels. It forms the basis of a federal European state".

Echoing the UKIP position, he said the treaty was "a gateway to a country called Europe", adding that his party might challenge its publication with the Electoral Commission, which has drawn up rules on how the referendum campaign should be fought, if it believed those guidelines had been breached.

A spokesman for the Vote No campaign said: "Straw is losing his grip on reality if he thinks that people will vote yes to this constitution. "Of the last 32 opinion polls done on the constitution, only one has shown people in favour - and that was carried out by the European commission. "A majority of voters are against the constitution in every region, every age group, every social group and among the supporters of every political party."

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib-Dim foreign affairs spokesman, backed the treaty but warned that the referendum would not focus on the merits of the constitution. He said: "I find it difficult to believe that the capacity of the British people in these matters is so unlimited that, for example, the kind of discussion we have had here today ...will be the sort of discussion which they have in their own minds before they come to cast their vote."

Ancram, incidentally, has produced his own document on the constitution, which can be obtained from the Conservative website.

To prove that we are fair and impartial, I will slag that off later today.

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